Hearing problems are classified in a number of different ways. The exact part of the auditory system affected determines the classification. The hearing loss may be conductive, senorineural, mixed, central or functional. The first step in designing a therapy plan is to accurately diagnose the kind of hearing loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss

This type of hearing loss accounts for over 90 percent of the instances in which a hearing aid is used. It is the result of damage in the interior of the ear or damage to the acoustic nerve, which prevents sound signals from being transmitted to the brain. Also referred to as nerve deafness or retrocochlear hearing loss, the damage is generally speaking irreversible, though advances in modern technology have enabled some formerly untreatable cases to be improved.

The most frequent causes of sensorineural hearing loss are the aging process, extended exposure to noise, complications with circulation of blood to the inner ear, fluid disturbance in the inner ear, medicines that cause damage to the ear, a handful of diseases, heredity and problems with the auditory nerve.

Hearing aids are satisfactory for most people that have sensorineural hearing loss, but in more serious cases, a cochlear implant can help bring back hearing to those individuals for whom a standard hearing aid is not enough.

Conductive hearing loss

In situations where sound waves aren’t properly conducted to the interior of the ear through the outer and middle ear, conductive hearing loss arises. Conductive hearing loss is quite widespread and could be due to an accumulation of ear wax, a buildup of moisture in the eustacian tube, which keeps the eardrum from moving, a middle ear infection, a perforated eardrum, disease of the bones of the middle ear or blockages in the ear canal.

Most instances of this type of hearing loss are reversible, presuming there isn’t any permanent damage to the parts of the middle ear, and with proper treatment the problem usually clears up fairly quickly. For some patients a surgical procedure can assist in correcting the problem or a hearing aid may be recommended.

Mixed hearing loss

As suggested by the term, mixed hearing loss is a blend of multiple types of hearing loss, in this case the combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Though there are a couple of other types of hearing loss, the combination of these 2 is most frequent.

Functional hearing loss

An infrequent situation, this type of hearing loss is not physical. Functional hearing loss is due to psychological or emotional problem in which the person’s physical hearing is normal, however they are not able to hear.

Central hearing loss

This condition occurs in situations where an issue in the CNS (central nervous system) prevents sound signals from being processed and interpreted by the brain. Affected individuals can ostensibly hear just fine, but cannot understand or interpret what the speaker is saying. Many cases involve a problem with the person’s capacity to adequately filter rival sounds. For example, the majority of us can have a conversation with traffic noise in the background, but individuals with this problem have a difficult time doing so.