What patients and families need to know
What is sensorineural hearing loss?
This is a loss of function in the inner ear or with the connection to the brain. Causes of this type of hearing loss include:
Conditions that are present at birth (congenital) such as:
- The mother has an infection such as toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes or syphilis
- The mother has diabetes
- Complications linked to Rh factor in the blood
- Genetic factors and syndromes the child has at birth
- A condition that is passed down in the family (hereditary)
Conditions that occur after birth (acquired) such as:
- Loud noise exposure
- Damage from certain medicines that can be harmful to the ears
- Low birth weight or prematurity
What is conductive hearing loss?
This is a problem in the outer or middle ear where sound waves are not sent to the inner ear correctly. It is the most common type of hearing loss in children. It often develops after birth. Factors that may cause this type of hearing loss are:
Congenital conditions such as:
- Problems with the outer ear
- Problems with the eardrum
- Problems with the outside ear canal
- Problems with the three tiny bones that send sound waves to the middle ear (ossicles)
Acquired conditions such as:
- Excessive wax
- Something gets stuck in the ear canal, such as beads or popcorn kernels
- Middle ear tumors
- Problems with the eustachian tube
- Ear infections
- Ongoing (chronic) ear infections with fluid in the middle ear
- Ruptured eardrum (perforated eardrum)
What is mixed hearing loss?
This is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. There is damage to the outer, middle or inner ear or the auditory nerve.