Understanding Hearing Loss | Clearly Hearing | Clearly Hearing
Steve W

Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss occurs when any part of the outer, middle or inner ear isn't working correctly.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the inner ear isn't working correctly and is almost always considered a permanent hearing loss that is not medically treatable. It accounts for approximately 90% of all hearing losses and is often accompanied by tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing inside of the head.  The best and often only treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is hearing aids.  Hearing Aids have the added benefit of reducing or eliminating the sounds of tinnitus while worn.

Try and think of hearing loss in two ways:

  1. Volume – It's simple to turn the volume up.  Consider a normal hearing person having difficulty hearing the TV; they simply turn the TV louder and their problem is fixed.
  2. Clarity – Sometimes if you live with Sensorineural hearing loss for too long before wearing hearing aids you                   effect your brains ability to differentiate between similar sounding words, like 'dime' and 'time'.  A person with senorineural hearing loss having difficulty hearing the TV may turn the volume up allowing them to hear everything loud enough, but not allowing them to hear everything clear enough.

Sensorineural hearing loss is a progressive hearing loss that worsens over time.  Watch our video which demonstrates how various degrees of sensorineural hearing loss impacts our ability to hear speech.

Studies have proven that the earlier people with sensorineural hearing loss begin wearing hearing aids the lower the degree of 'speech clarity' they will lose.

FACT: Hearing aids can't correct hearing loss, but they can slow down and even prevent the loss of speech clarity.

Read "Hearing Loss Solutions" for a more thorough explanation on how unaided sensorineural hearing loss negatively effects your brains ability to hear the difference between similar words.

A Conductive hearing loss occurs when the outer or middle ear isn't working correctly and is often considered a temporary hearing loss or a medically correctible hearing loss. A conductive hearing loss can be a caused from a simple problem that may have a simple solution, for instance an ear canal that is plugged with wax will cause a conductive hearing loss that is fully corrected when a hearing health provider removes the wax.

People with hearing loss often feel as though they are plugged with wax or like their head is under water, but its far more common that the sensation of being 'plugged up' is caused from a sensorineural impairment than by something actually physically plugging the ear.  

People with conductive hearing losses should always be evaluated by a hearing health provider to see if medication or surgery can correct the function of their outer or middle ear. Sometimes surgery is not a viable option of correction, or the risk of complications of surgery out way the benefits and hearing aids are the best solution for improved hearing.

A Mixed Hearing Loss is rare and refers to a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This means that there may be damage in one of or both the outer and middle ear, as well as the inner ear.

Learn how different styles of hearing aids and different hearing aid features can help you begin your journey to better hearing.

Table of causes of Sensorineural, Conductive and Mixed hearing losses




Noise Damage; work-place and recreational noise, as well as, loud music is the number one cause of hearing loss.

Presbycusis; Hearing loss caused from aging.

Hereditary Hearing Loss, passed on from the genes of mom or dad.

Head Trauma, a hard fall, a bad accident



Ototoxic reaction to drugs, prescription or street.

Malformation, or malfunction of outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear structures, including hole in eardrum, and poor Eustachian tube function.

Ear Wax or other foreign body blocking ear canal

Otitis media; middle ear infections that cause fluid to accumulate in the middle ear, which interferes with the movement of the eardrum or middle ear bones.  

Common in children, usually associated with head cold                                                         and usually out grown.

Otosclerosis – abnormal bone growth prevents the stapes from moving freely. Typically causes a reverse slope hearing loss, effecting 250Hz, 500Hz and 1000Hz and allowing the middle and higher frequencies to remain hearing in or close to the normal range of hearing. Typically a hereditary pathology that is most often corrected surgically.

Cholesteatomas: Benign tumors that can effect the transmission of sound through the outer or middle ear.

May include possible causes from Sensorineural hearing loss and Conductive hearing loss.

Example: Noise damage and plugged with wax.


1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59) have a hearing problem

Shopify secure badge