Types of Hearing Loss

Dr. Jane Lea, MD, FRCSC, Paediatric Otolaryngologist discusses diagnosis and symptoms of the types of hearing loss.

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Dr. Jane Lea, MD, FRCSC, Paediatric Otolaryngologist discusses diagnosis and symptoms of the types of hearing loss.
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Featuring Dr. Jane Lea, MD, FRCSC, Otologist/Neurotologist
Duration: 2 minutes, 14 seconds    

So there's three main causes of hearing loss.  

The first is conductive hearing loss. Then there's also a sensorineural hearing loss.  And then there's a combination of both, which is called a mixed hearing loss.

A conductive hearing loss implies that there's a problem or a roadblock getting sound to the organ of hearing. So it usually happens in the outer or the middle ear; whereas, a sensorineural hearing loss is usually a problem within the cochlea or the organ of hearing itself. A mixed hearing loss is a combination of both of those.

So, unfortunately, there isn't a surgical procedure for every type of hearing loss. We usually do hearing loss for a conductive hearing loss, which is when there's a problem getting sound to the organ of hearing. 

So, typically, that's when there's a problem with the outer ear, so it could be simple things like cerumen or wax blocking it. So we can typically just remove that in a clinic. 

Sometimes, there's a problem with the eardrum itself. Either there's a hole in the eardrum, and there's lots of scarring, so we can do surgery for that.  

And the third problem is when there's a problem with the bones of hearing that sit in the middle ear. Either they're not connected, or some of them are stiff. So, typically, surgery is geared towards that type of hearing loss, as opposed to a type of hearing loss in the organ of hearing itself, such as a sensorineural hearing loss.  

Having said that, you can do surgery for people who are considered to have a severe or a profound hearing loss on both sides of their ears. Those people typically really struggle with hearing aids, and we can do something called a cochlear implant. But, for the most part, most of our surgery is done for conductive hearing loss problems.  

Surgery can't help everyone that has a hearing loss. You have to have a certain type of hearing loss. And, even if you had that type of hearing loss, typically, we would recommend hearing aids as a first line of treatment because surgery comes with risks.  Hearing aids are typically an option for most people with hearing loss, whether it's a conductive hearing loss or a sensorineural hearing loss.  

Hearing loss is one of the most important senses we have. It allows us to interact with our environment and with other people. So, if people do have hearing loss, you know, they often are finding that they're not interacting with others. They're really isolating themselves. 

And, if you do think you have a hearing loss, you should consult your local audiologist or physician.  

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Presenter: Dr. Jane Lea, Otolaryngologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Otolaryngologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.