What Is Conductive Hearing Loss?

This blog has been reviewed and approved by a hearing care professional.

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not able to be properly transmitted through the outer or middle ear to the inner ear. The issue restricts or prevents sound waves from getting to your inner ear. Conductive hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. It depends on where within the system it occurs and the cause of the conductive hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss may make it hard to hear soft or low volume sounds.

Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss may be caused by:

Fluid in your middle ear from colds or allergies
Ear infections
Poor eustachian tube function
A hole in your eardrum
Benign tumors
Excessive earwax
Swimmer’s ear
An object stuck in your outer ear
A problem with how the outer or middle ear is formed 
Narrowing or abnormalities in your ear canal

Symptoms of Conductive Hearing Loss

The symptoms of conductive hearing loss will vary depending on the cause of hearing loss, but symptoms may include:

Harder to hear soft sounds
Muffled hearing
Sudden or steady loss of hearing
Full or “stuffy” sensation in the ear
Draining of the ear
Pain or tenderness in the ear

What is the Difference Between Conductive and Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

There are generally considered to be three types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive, and mixed.
Sensorineural hearing loss happens when important mechanisms in your inner ear become damaged. Conductive hearing loss happens when sound is blocked from passing through your outer and middle ear, so it can’t get to your inner ear.
Mixed hearing loss happens when you have a mix of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss happening at the same time.
Learn more about the different types of hearing loss.

How is Hearing Loss Identified?

A hearing care professional will perform a full hearing assessment to determine if you have hearing loss and what type. The assessment isn’t a pass-fail exam, but the results can show whether you have hearing loss in one or both ears and how much hearing is affected. The results are charted on an audiogram.

This shows the levels of sounds heard across different frequencies and pitches. It also provides information on the hearing threshold level in decibels. If your hearing test shows you have a hearing loss, our clinicians will explain the next steps. We work with you to determine the best plan of action for your hearing health. 

Conductive Hearing Loss Treatment

Some types of conductive hearing loss can be corrected with hearing aids. Hearing aids are small electronic devices that you wear in or behind your ear. The devices are programmed by a hearing care professional to make some sounds louder to help overcome any hearing loss present. However, some types may have medical or surgical options. 
Do note that medical treatments may not fully reverse the effects of hearing loss.

The Takeaway

Conductive hearing loss happens when there is damage or blockage in the outer or middle ear. The blockage prevents or reduces sound from traveling into the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss may be treated medically, surgically or by wearing hearing aids. If you think you are experiencing hearing loss, contact one of our local hearing centres for a hearing test.

You might also be interested in...