There are two general types of hearing loss: sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and conductive hearing loss. To put it briefly, sensorineural hearing loss involves damage in the inner ear and conductive hearing loss involves damage in the outer or middle ear. When the two types of hearing loss occur in combination, it’s known as mixed hearing loss. This condition can result in mild or moderate to severe hearing loss.
What Causes Mixed Hearing Loss?
Mixed hearing loss be a result of anything that causes conductive hearing loss or SNHL. For example, if you have hearing loss in your inner ear due to a noisy work environment and fluid in your middle ear then that could lead to mixed hearing loss, making your hearing worse than it would be with only one of those problems.
Or, another example, a person experiencing age-related hearing loss may suddenly experience further hearing loss due to a ruptured eardrum. The symptoms of mixed hearing loss manifest in some combination of the symptoms that people with either sensorineural or conductive hearing loss would experience alone.
How is Mixed Hearing Loss Treated?
Treatment options for someone experiencing mixed hearing loss depend entirely on the causes of the two types of hearing loss, and the extent to which the hearing loss is more sensorineural or conductive. In many cases, conductive hearing loss can be treated with surgery, such as the removal of blockages, tumors, or bony growths. If surgery isn’t an option for the conductive hearing loss, then hearing aids may be prescribed, or bone-anchored hearing aids may be implanted. Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be treated surgically. Most often, this type of hearing loss is greatly assisted by the use of hearing aids. In the case of severe or profound sensorineural hearing loss, cochlear implants may be an option to help the person improve their hearing.
For more information on all of the different types of hearing loss, you can read our article: What Are The Different Types of Hearing Loss?
The information in this guide has been written using the following reliable sources: