Hearing loss is a decreased ability to hear.
The Anatomy of the Ear
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
There are two main categories of hearing loss:
- Conductive hearing loss is caused by something interfering with the sound passing to the inner ear
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to:
- The cochlea—the major organ in the ear responsible for hearing
- The 8th cranial nerve—the major nerve pathway and/or area of the brain responsible for hearing
Causes of conductive hearing loss may include:
- Impacted ear wax
- Fluid in the middle ear
- Ear infections
- Perforation of ear drum
- Changes the bone structure of the ear, a condition called otosclerosis
- Congenital anomaly causing complete closure of the ear canal
Causes of sensorineural hearing loss is unknown in most people. Some causes may include:
- Otosclerosis affecting the inner ear
- Vascular disease that affects blood flow to the ear
- Previous brain, ear surgery, or viral infection causing damage to the inner ear
Last reviewedSeptember 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.