There are fundamental differences between sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. This includes the underlying causes, typical signs and symptoms, and potential treatment options.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear, including the hair cells and auditory nerve. Conductive hearing loss is caused by blockages to your outer and middle ear that prevents sound from reaching your inner ear.
Common symptoms of sensorineural loss include decreased sensitivity to sound. So you have to ask people to repeat what they just said and turn up the volume on TV and music players. Signs of conductive loss, apart from decreased hearing, usually involve a feeling of fullness in your ears, as if they are plugged. You may also experience pain, and a bloody or fluid discharge coming from your ear.
Sensorineural hearing loss is typically permanent. That’s why the main treatment option for sensorineural hearing loss is using hearing aids. They are able to amplify and process sound to make up for the loss of your inner ear’s ability to do it.
Conductive hearing loss can be permanent, but it is often temporary. When you treat the underlying health condition, your hearing will be restored once the blockage goes away. Treatments include medication to treat infections, surgery to remove blockages, and earwax removal.