Sensorineural Hearing Loss occurs when the sensory part of the ear (the inner ear and outer hair cells) or the neural part of the ear (nerve that runs from the ear up to the brain) lose their ability to function normally. This happens to many people as they age and from the “wear and tear” that we put on our hearing. It can also be congenital or occur from illness.
Conductive Hearing Loss occurs when there is something physically obstructing the ear canal or middle ear and sound cannot be effectively conducted through the canal and middle ear into the inner ear. Oftentimes conductive hearing loss is temporary, but there are some medical conditions where it is permanent. A few examples of conductive hearing loss are: having wax impacted in the outer ear canal, having fluid in the middle ear (from an ear infection), or having bony growths around or on the ossicles (middle ear bones).
Sudden Hearing Loss occurs all at once. There is no gradual loss of hearing; moreover people wake up in the morning and find that they cannot hear out of one of their ears at all. There are some diseases of the ear that present with this symptom, but not all causes of sudden hearing loss are known.
There are classes of drugs that can harm the hair cells in the inner ear and cause hearing loss. Certain mycin drugs, as well as chemotherapy drugs, can damage one’s hearing, especially in the high frequency range. Many doctors will do hearing testing to monitor their patients’ hearing throughout a cycle of chemotherapy.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) occurs when people work or play around loud noises for extended periods of time. Most often the damage occurs in the high frequencies, but leaving the low frequencies within the normal range. Some examples of noisy jobs are: factory work, presses, machinery, farm equipment, tools, pressure guns/tools. Some examples of noisy hobbies are: hunting, shooting, boating, working with engines/cars, concerts/music.
A one-time blast or very loud noise can permanently damage one’s hearing.
If there is physical damage to the ear or skull, hearing loss can be permanent or temporary due to the damages inflicted to the structures in the ear or brain.