Differences Between Conductive vs Sensorineural Hearing Loss


When signs of hearing loss begin to noticeable, it is normal to become concerned about what it might indicate. If anybody is becoming hard of hearing, find an audiologist to determine which type of hearing loss is occurring.

They help to identify the causes and appropriate treatments, it’s important to know about conductive vs. sensorineural hearing loss so that you can begin to understand and identify the problem.

Hearing Loss
Hearing Loss

There are Two Primary Types of Hearing Loss

1. conductive hearing loss and

2. sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL)

Sometimes it is also possible that some people can have mixed hearing loss, both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss occur at the same time.

The primary differences between conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss:

Conductive Hearing Loss:

The conductive hearing loss is a type of hearing losses that occurs when sounds are not able to pass freely to the inner ear, mostly resulting from a blockage in the outer or middle ear, due to a ruptured eardrum.

Causes of blockages include the following:

Malformation of outer ear/ear canal/middle ear structures, fluid in the middle ear sometimes due to a cold, and perforated eardrum, benign tumors, impacted earwax, ear canal infection, and foreign object in the ear.


A genetic form of conductive hearing loss is an overgrowth of bone in the inner ear. In many cases, the help of surgery is recommended and a successful form of treatment. Some types of hearing aids may be helpful to those who have hearing loss problem.

This disease is inherited where the bone around the stirrup bone hardens and the stirrup fails to vibrate effectively. This disease affects women more than men and affects slightly less than 1% of the population overall. This condition can be treated and controlled with a hearing aid and with a stapedectomy surgery.

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Causes of Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss problem can be caused by diseases which affect the external ear or middle ear. Some of the causes of conductive hearing loss are below:

The ear divided into three parts:

  • External Ear: It is known as visible ear and ear canal. Here are some causes:
  1.  Earwax: Earwax can be identified by a medical examination and it is mostly be removed quickly.
  2. Otitis Externa: It happens in “swimmer’s ear”, an infection of the ear canal it related to water exposure. This hearing loss may occur if there is swelling of the ear canal.
  3. Foreign body in Ear Canal: This is difficult to identify on examination and can usually be cleared in the office.
  • Middle Ear: Middle ear is known as eardrum and ossicles. Here are some causes
    1. Middle Ear Fluid or Infection: The middle ear space may be filled with fluid instead of air.
    2. Otitis media is divided into three types: (a) acute otitis media, (b)serous otitis media and (c)chronic otitis media.
  • Inner ear: It includes the organ of hearing and organ of balance sound enter the ear canal and vibration in the eardrum.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL):

The sensorineural hearing loss is called sensory, cochlear, neural, or inner ear hearing loss. This type of hearing losses occurs as a result of damage to the hair cells in the hearing nerve or the cochlea. It is the age-related hearing loss, damage to the cochlea that occurs naturally as part of the aging process.

What is the Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

The sensorineural hearing loss means, damage to the hair cells in your inner ear and to the nerve pathways which is lead to the inner ear of the brain. While most of the sensorineural hearing loss is age-related. Many people with sensorineural hearing loss report that they can hear, but they cannot understand speech. This is especially true in the presence of background noise, and it can be frustrating.

There are other possible causes of this hearing loss

  • Open to loud sounds,
  • Ototoxic drugs, and some infectious diseases like Meniere’s Disease,
  • Head injuries,
  • Benign tumors, and
  • Genetic predisposition.

Because this type of hearing loss occurs as a result of nerve-related damage, it is usually permanent but may be managed with the use of hearing aids.

There are two types of sensorineural hearing loss

  1. Congenital sensorineural hearing loss and
  2. Acquired sensorineural hearing loss.

Congenital sensorineural hearing loss:

This hearing loss happens during pregnancy. Because diseases passed from the mother to child in the womb like rubella, Below some causes

  • Prematurity
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Lack of oxygen during birth
  • Genetics

Acquired sensorineural hearing loss

This hearing loss occurs after birth. Below some Causes:

  • Aging: Age is One of the most common conditions of growing older is presbycusis, Because this type of loss occurs over time, mostly in both ears, it’s difficult to notice.
  • Noise: According to the NIDCD, almost 15% of people between the ages of 20 to 69 suffer from Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). NIHL may be cured by exposure to a one-time loud noise, like an explosion, and sounds louder than 85 decibels (dB) over an extended period of time.
  • Disease and infections: Viral infections, like measles, meningitis, and mumps may be a reason for the sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Head or acoustic trauma: Damage to inner ear may also be occurred by a blow to the head or detection to an extremely loud noise, like an explosion.
  • Tumors: Tumors is Examples of common tumors like acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor it affects the auditory system and cholesteatoma, and abnormal skin growth in the middle ear.
  • Medications: According to the Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), more than 200 medications and chemicals are ototoxic, and it damaging to hearing health.

Treatment for Sensorineural Hearing Loss

The first step is to better hearing is people have a thorough hearing examination from a qualified and better hearing healthcare professional. They can work for them to determine the cause and range of their hearing loss, as well as develop an individualized plan to treat it.

There are the types of hearing loss:

  1. Conductive Hearing Loss, it is virtually a mechanical problem with the conduction of sound vibrations, and
  2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss, it is a problem with the generation and transmission of nerve impulses from the inner ear to the brain.