There are two basic types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss, and sensorineural hearing loss. They differ in where in your hearing system the problems have occurred, and in how we treat the resulting hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss results from diseases or disorders of the ear canal, eardrum, or middle ear. This can be anything from a plug of wax blocking your ear canal, to a significant ear infection, to any number of other problems. In general, conductive hearing losses are medically treatable. If we remove the wax plug or deal with the ear infection or other issue, the hearing most often returns to normal or near normal. For people suffering a conductive hearing loss, the sound is usually too soft, but what they do hear is clear. Often only one ear is affected by conductive hearing loss, depending on the cause.

Sensorineural hearing loss results from diseases or disorders of the inner ear or neural pathways to where sound is interpreted in the brain. The two most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss are noise damage and ageing, but again, a variety of other factors can contribute to sensorineural hearing loss. For people with sensorineural hearing loss, sounds are too soft (though loud sounds can be too loud) and are often not completely clear. Sensorineural hearing losses generally affect both ears and are most often permanent. Because of this, the management of sensorineural hearing losses includes fitting appropriate hearing aids. You can protect yourself from acquiring a sensorineural hearing loss to some extent by the consistent use of hearing protection devices like earplugs or earmuffs when exposed to high noise levels, not listening to music at high volumes, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.