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Types and causes of hearing loss and deafness


Hearing loss and deafness happen when sound signals don’t reach the brain. This is caused by a problem in the hearing system.

There are two main types of hearing loss. It’s possible to have both types, and this is known as mixed hearing loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss

This is caused by damage to the hair cells inside the inner ear, or damage to the hearing nerve, or both.

It makes it more difficult to hear quiet sounds and reduces the quality of sound that you can hear.

Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, but can often be treated with hearing aids.

Conductive hearing loss

This happens when a blockage, such as ear wax, stops sound passing from your outer ear to your inner ear.

Sounds will become quieter and things might sound muffled. It can be temporary or permanent.

Conductive hearing loss is usually caused by ear problems.