What is Conductive Hearing Loss?

Conductive hearing loss happens when sound can’t be conducted through your outer and middle ear to reach your inner ear.

We’ve all had those visitors we try to pause at the front door or in the hallway rather than allowing them into the living room. With conductive hearing loss, your ears behave a bit like this, trapping sound before it can reach your inner ear.

As a result, loud sounds might be muffled, and soft sounds might be tough to hear. It’s a bit like standing behind your front door while trying to have a conversation with someone at the bottom of the stairwell.

trying to listen through a door is like conductive hearing loss

9 Possible Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss

There is a range of possible causes of conductive loss, most of which involve a solid or liquid sound barrier inconveniently located in your ear.  

  1. Something stuck in your ear, like impacted ear wax or a foreign object.
  2. Fluid in your middle ear, resulting from a cold or a middle ear infection (otitis media).
  3. A perforated eardrum.
  4. An infection in the ear canal, also known as swimmer’s ear.
  5. Abnormal bone growth within the ear canal, also known as surfer’s ear.
  6. Allergies.
  7. A blocked Eustachian tube that doesn’t drain well.
  8. Otosclerosis, a genetic disorder that causes abnormal bone growth in the middle ear.
  9. Cholesteatoma, an abnormal, non-cancerous skin growth in your middle ear.

How is Conductive Loss Treated?

Conductive hearing loss is often easily treated on the spot, such as with ear microsuction to remove earwax or debris. Other treatments include:

  • Antibiotics or antifungal medications to treat infections of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear and to deal with middle ear fluid.
  • Surgery to repair the middle ear’s structures, for example, after head trauma or due to otosclerosis.
  • Amplifying sound with a bone-conduction hearing aid, a surgically implanted device or a conventional hearing aid.

The good news is that many cases of this type of hearing loss are easily resolved and often do get better with treatment. 

This page was written by Ron Trounson Charge Audiologist at Ear Health on:

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