Types of Hearing Loss – Educational Overview

Hearing loss comes in many shapes and sizes. The different types of hearing loss each have different symptoms and must be managed differently.

If you think you may have a hearing loss, no matter what type, it’s a good idea to visit your local audiologist or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician to see what’s going on and what steps you can take to improve your ability to hear and understand speech.

There are three primary types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive
  • Sensorineural
  • Mixed

Let's take a look at each in-depth and examine their symptoms and the various ways to manage each type. 







Hearing loss associated with a pathology of the outer or middle ear

Often temporary

Impacted ear wax

Ear infection 

Abnormal bone growth in the middle ear (otosclerosis)

Difficultly hearing soft sounds

Loud sounds sound muffled

Ear drainage of fluid

Ear pain 

See an audiologist or ENT for medical management

Sensorineural (aka sensory)

Hearing loss due to damage to the cochlea or nerves from the inner ear to the brain

Often permanent

Noise exposure


Genetic conditions

Drugs that are toxic to hearing


Reduced ability to detect sound

Difficulty understanding speech in noise

Speech sounding unclear even if it is loud enough

Sensitivity to loud sounds

See an audiologist

You may be a candidate for hearing aids or could benefit from assistive listening devices


A mixture of the two types above!

Damage can occur at more than one place along the auditory pathway.

Having mix of both - refer to causes above

See above symptoms

See an audiologist or ENT 

The conductive portion may be able to be resolved through medical management

The sensorineural component of the hearing loss may be managed hearing aids or other audiologic treatment

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