Types & Causes of Hearing Loss Find Answers

Hearing impairment or hearing loss is a perceived reduction in your ability to hear. Your sense of hearing involves several parts of your body working together, and an issue at any point in the process can lead to a problem. Keep reading to learn more about the three types of hearing loss and the common causes.

Schedule a free appointment today and begin your journey to better hearing.

colorful trophy
colorful trophy

What Is Causing My Hearing Loss?

Your sense of hearing is a complex process in which your outer ear, your inner ear and your brain work together. In general terms, if one or more of those parts are damaged or otherwise interrupted, you will experience hearing loss in one or both of your ears.

The Three Types of Hearing Loss

The type of hearing loss you experience is determined by the part of the ear in which the impairment has occurred. The three main types of hearing loss are conductive, sensorineural and mixed. Read ahead to learn more about these three types ahead of your consultation with a Beltone hearing care professional, who can help you to determine which type of hearing loss you have.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss, accounting for 90% of adult hearing problems. Some characteristics include:

  • Sounds not only diminish in volume, but become distorted

  • The ability to hear high-pitched sounds is usually affected first

  • The ability to hear low-pitched sounds, such as vowel sounds, may be normal or relatively well-preserved

Sensorineural hearing loss is commonly related to aging and/or a history of loud noise exposure.

Conductive Hearing Loss

A conductive hearing loss is often temporary and can sometimes be corrected with wax removal, medication or surgery. Conductive loss stems from problems in the outer or middle ear and can be caused by:

  • Ear infection

  • Build-up of ear wax or fluid

  • Punctured eardrum

  • Otosclerosis – an abnormal bone development in the middle ear

Most cases of temporary hearing loss are due to one of the above causes. Allergies, sinus problems and certain medications can also lead to a temporary diminishing of one’s hearing ability.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss is precisely what it sounds like: a mix of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

In these cases, treatment may require a multi-pronged approach, such as wax removal, medication or surgery, in addition to the hearing aids recommended by a hearing care professional.

Causes of Hearing Loss

woman looking out of window

Does Everyone Lose Their Hearing When They Get Older?

Along with exposure to loud noises, the natural aging process is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. The good news is that hearing aids are an effective treatment that can help to reduce or even eliminate the negative impacts of hearing loss as you get older.
woman outside wearing a blue sweater

Will Earbuds Damage My Hearing?

Today’s smartphone-connected earbuds or headphones may not expose your ears to extreme sounds like power equipment or professional subwoofers, but they’re far from harmless. Headphones and earbuds can induce hearing loss by isolating loud noises and placing them directly inside your sensitive ear canals.
man in the kitchen

Is My Medication Causing Hearing Loss?

Did you know that more than 200 medications are known to cause hearing loss? Prescription or over-the-counter drugs that cause either hearing loss or tinnitus are called ototoxic medications, and they’re something to watch out for if you’re noticing problems with your hearing.
woman having headache

How Is Meningitis Related to Hearing Loss?

Meningitis is an infection in the lining and fluid around the brain and spinal column, which can be viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic. While meningitis doesn’t always result in hearing loss, people who have had meningitis are at a much higher risk. In fact, meningitis is a top cause of acquired hearing loss in children and young adults.
woman wearing headphones

Online Hearing Assessment

Visit any Beltone Hearing Care Center to discover just how simple it is to improve your hearing.

You can also take our online hearing assessment to get a head start on your free appointment—we’ll forward your results to your local Beltone office. The results will help your hearing care professional begin the process of determining your level of hearing loss and which hearing aids are right for you.

two men sitting outside
two men sitting outside

Understanding Hearing Loss

Hearing loss—or hearing impairment—is a reduction in your ability to hear. It can happen gradually or relatively quickly. At Beltone, we want to help you understand hearing loss and find the right solution.

woman looking out of the window
woman looking out of the window

Impacts of Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss has been linked to dementia, depression, falls and other serious health conditions. It can also leave people feeling isolated and make it difficult to participate in once-loved activities. Addressing hearing loss is an important part of maintaining good health.

man holding onto his ear
man holding onto his ear

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a common medical condition associated with hearing loss that is often experienced as ringing, hissing, buzzing or roaring in the ears. If you are experiencing these symptoms—intermittently or constantly—a Beltone hearing care professional can help you get relief.