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What is conductive hearing loss?

Conductive hearing loss occurs in the outer or middle part of the ear, where sound is converted to vibrations and sent to the inner ear. This type of hearing loss refers to issues with transferring sound waves (due to a blockage or other impediment.)

Excessive ear wax, a ruptured ear drum, or even ear infections can result in conductive hearing loss.

Hearing loss types

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What causes conductive hearing loss?

Conductive hearing loss is a type of hearing loss that is often easily identifiable. The following causes have been associated with this type of hearing loss:

  • Wax build-up
  • Fluid in the ear
  • Ear infections
  • Damage to the ear drum
  • Trauma
  • Diseases such as osteoporosis

What is the difference between conductive and sensorineural hearing loss?

Hearing loss is divided into the following categories (based on which part of the ear is damaged): sensorineural, conductive, and mixed hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss is usually the result of a disruption to the sound's path as it travels from the outer/middle ear to the inner ear, while sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the delicate nerve fibres of the inner ear become damaged.

Mixed hearing loss occurs when both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss occur in the same ear.

Sensorineural hearing loss

3 signs of conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is sometimes accompanied by pain or discomfort - or the feeling that "something is wrong" in the ear. Other common signs of conductive hearing loss may include:

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1. Speech and other sounds seem distant or muffled
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2. Pain, pressure, or discharge in the ear
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3. A feeling of "fullness" in the ear
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Treatment for conductive hearing loss

Time may be all that is needed to recover from less severe cases of conductive hearing loss. In other cases, conductive hearing loss can be treated medically in one of the following ways:

  • Antibiotics and anti-fungal medications can treat hearing loss caused by an ear infection
  • Surgery may be recommended to repair damages to the eardrum or middle ear, if present
  • Hearing aids may also be an option if other forms of treatment have not been sufficient
  • Bone anchored hearing systems

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Mona Hemsley red shirt looking forward
Mona Hemsley - Chief Audiologist and Head of Clinical Governance and Training

B.Comm(Mgt), GradCertSci., M.Clin.Aud.,MAudSA(CCP)

Mona’s career has seen her work in a wide range of audiological areas, including paediatrics, diagnostics and tinnitus counselling, where she ultimately developed a passion for adult rehabilitation and helping not simply hearing care clients but developing the skills of our network of clinicians. Mona’s consistent relationship-focused ability to train and foster the talents of all client-facing team members saw her move into State Management and national training roles, before advancing to her current role as Chief Audiologist and Head of Clinical Governance and Training for the entire Audika Clinical Network across Australia and New Zealand. 

Mona’s focus is now on ensuring every client that Audika interacts with is achieving a better quality of life, through a clinically consistent, professional and high-standard of care provided by all clinical team members. This client outcomes focus is the key driver in developing and reimagining the future of modern hearing care at Audika.