Among the four types of hearing loss, conductive hearing loss is the most easily treated. However, it’s still important to understand how and why it occurs.
You may find information about many types of hearing loss when researching the subject of deafness. All of these illnesses cause hearing loss or impairment, but they have varied effects on individuals and call for various treatments. It’s crucial to distinguish between them as a result.
Despite being less common than sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss can happen to anyone. While many occurrences are transient or fully reversible, some lead to long-term harm and permanent hearing loss.
We must comprehend what conductive hearing loss is and how it can happen before we can discuss its signs and treatments.
What is Conductive Hearing Loss?
A type of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss happens when sound waves cannot enter the inner ear. This may manifest as a blockage, an eardrum injury, or a narrowing ear canal.
The two main categories of this illness are inner ear and middle ear hearing loss. The ear canal and aperture make up the outer ear, whereas the middle ear is made up of several tiny bones. These spaces are where sound travels through the ear to reach the inner ear, where the cochlea converts vibrations into sound.
Conductive hearing loss is the term used to describe when this process is impeded or inhibited. Many different conditions can result in conductive hearing loss, although ear infections and earwax are the most common causes.
Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss
As mentioned before, conductive hearing loss can occur in two areas. Common afflictions of the outer ear include:
- Earwax buildup and impaction.
- Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa.
- Exostoses, which are small, abnormal growths within the ear canal.
- Foreign objects in the ear.
Problems with the middle ear can also lead to conductive hearing loss. These problems include:
- Ear infections, or otitis media, which leads to a buildup of fluid in the middle ear.
- A burst or perforated eardrum, which can be caused by loud noises, injuries, rapid altitude changes, and ear infections.
- A hardened/thickened eardrum, also known as Tympanosclerosis.
- Issues with the eustachian tube, or the middle ear’s passage to the throat.
- Abnormal middle-ear growths or tumors.
- Breakage of the middle-ear bones, known formally as ossicular chain discontinuity.
- Otoscelerosis, a hardening/freezing of the middle ear bones.
- Congenital conditions, including microtia (underdeveloped ear) and stenosis (small ear canal), can also result in conductive hearing loss.
- Exostoses, the hard protrusions in the ear canal, can develop as a result of repeatedly swimming in cold water. The term “surfer’s ear” is another name for this illness, which should not be confused with swimmer’s ear, a transient infection.
Symptoms of Conductive Hearing Loss
- A lost or deteriorating capacity for hearing is the most telling symptom that you have hearing loss. However, there are a few symptoms that are more specific to conductive hearing loss.
- Problems hearing or understanding speech
- Unclear or muffled noise
- One-sided hearing loss, or the ability to hear better out of one ear than the other.
- Pressure or pain in one or both ears.
- Issues keeping your balance.
- A feeling that your voice sounds strange, or louder than usual.
- Strange odors or fluids leaking from the ear — which is typical of conductive hearing loss caused by infection or impaction.
Conductive vs Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Contrary to sensorineural hearing loss, which frequently results in difficulties hearing certain pitches, voices, or consonants, conductive hearing loss typically results in a muffled perception of sound.
While conductive hearing loss can frequently be treated with surgery and antibiotics, sensorineural hearing loss is always irreversible. While some forms of conductive hearing loss are irreversible, others are treatable with the right medical attention.
These requirements do not, however, have to coexist. A condition known as mixed hearing loss can occur when sensorineural and conductive hearing loss coexist. It is advised that you have a hearing test done in conjunction with your physical examination if you are exhibiting symptoms untypical of conductive hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss frequently results from ear infections like swimmer’s ear, allergies, or head trauma. On the other hand, sensorineural hearing loss is more, covert and sneaky. Many individuals do not become aware of their sensorineural hearing loss until it is very severe.
Therefore, it’s crucial to regularly have your hearing examined. Your doctor may do a sensorineural damage test if you are seeking therapy for conductive hearing loss. This is an important aspect of identifying mixed hearing loss.
Despite the differences between conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, both can affect your hearing and quality of life.
Conductive Hearing Loss Treatment Conduction hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors; hence, therapies differ. Getting aid and getting a diagnosis is the first step towards getting therapy. Your general physician or an audiologist can assist you with this. Treatment can begin after the problem has been located.
Ear infections and earwax buildup are the main causes of conductive hearing loss. Even though these problems seem harmless, they can be hazardous if ignored or handled incorrectly.
Do not attempt to remove the earwax yourself if you have an earwax blockage. You could easily pierce your eardrum or push the obstruction farther inside your ear. Do not insert anything into your ears, not even cleaning equipment or ear canals.
People who frequently get ear infections should seek medical attention. Even if isolated treatments might be simple to resolve, ongoing problems might leave the ear canal scarred. Never let an ear infection worsen; instead, consult a physician. It’s crucial that you get the right antibiotics to get the illness under control. Relying solely on home cures is not advised.
Surgery is a solution for those who have tumours, growths, or protrusions in their ears. There are alternative therapy options available if a procedure is unable to resolve the problem.
There are hearing aids available for conductive hearing loss. Standard hearing aids can help, and specialised bone conduction hearing aids are designed to address conduction problems specifically.
By skipping the outer and middle ears, these hearing aids work by sending sound vibrations straight to the cochlea. These hearing devices can replace the need for damaged or deformed components of the ear in people with incurable diseases.