Types of Hearing Loss

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is categorized into one of three types, based on its source: sensory, conductive and mixed.


Sensory loss, or sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), is caused by damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or the auditory nerve leading to the brain. This type of hearing loss can be caused by factors including illness or injury, genetics or aging, noise or medication, and it typically cannot be reversed by medical or surgical intervention. However, hearing aids can help accommodate for this type of impairment.

Presbycusis: Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis (prez-bi-kyoo-sis), falls in this category. Most commonly, presbycusis arises from changes in the inner ear as a result of the aging process. However, this condition may be complicated by noise-related damage, or changes in the middle ear or the auditory nerve. Certain medical conditions and medications also may play a role in presbycusis.


Hearing loss occurs in the outer and middle ear when vibrations are not transmitted properly through the ear canal to the eardrum and the middle ear. The result is a reduction in perceived sound level or the inability to hear faint sounds. This type of hearing loss, caused in most cases by infections, fluids, or anatomical blockages, often can be corrected medically or surgically.

Mixed Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss involves a combination of sensorineural and conductive disorders.

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