Conductive hearing loss occurs when something is keeping sound from entering the outer or middle ear. It can be either temporary or permanent and can usually be treated successfully.
There are many causes of this type of hearing loss (a lot of which are common):
- Earwax (cerumen) buildup in the ear canal
The earwax can prevent sound from entering the inner ear.
- Fluid buildup in the middle ear
- Foreign bodies in the ear canal
- Damage to or scarring of the eardrum
- An ear infection (otitis media)
- Otosclerosis (abnormal growth of bone in middle ear)
- Swelling of the Eustachian tube
The Eustachian tube keeps the air pressure on each side of the eardrum equal and can swell when you get a cold or the flu. When the pressure around the eardrum is unequal, it can cause conductive deafness.
- Scuba diving and flying in an airplane
These activities can cause the air pressure around the eardrum to become unequal.
Depending on the cause, treatment for a conductive loss can be quite easy.
Earwax that is blocking the ear canal can be removed (by a trained professional only!)
Antibiotics can be used to treat the infections that cause conductive deafness.
Fluid buildup in the middle ear can be drained.
Other Types of Hearing Loss
There are other types of hearing loss as well, such as sensorineural hearing loss, which is when there is nerve damage to the inner ear or brain. However, unlike conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss is permanent.