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Types of Hearing Loss


Hearing loss can develop at any age and may be caused by many different factors. Hearing loss is most often categorized as sensorineural, conductive, or mixed.


Sensorineural Hearing Loss  

Also called “nerve-related” hearing loss, it occurs when the inner ear or the actual hearing nerve itself becomes damaged. Sensorineural loss is the most common type of hearing loss. It can be a result of aging, exposure to loud noise, injury, disease, oto-toxic drugs, or an inherited condition. This type of hearing loss is typically not medically or surgically treatable; however many people with this type of loss find that hearing aids can be beneficial. For more information on sensorineural hearing loss, go to


Conductive Hearing Loss

This kind of hearing loss occurs in the outer or middle ear where sound waves cannot be conducted all the way through to the inner ear. Sound may be blocked by earwax or a foreign object located in the ear canal, the middle ear space may be filled by fluid and infection or a bone abnormality, or the eardrum may be injured. In some people, conductive hearing loss may be a temporary loss that can be reversed through medical or surgical intervention. Visit

/hearing/conductive.htm to find out more about conductive hearing loss.


Mixed Hearing Loss

This occurs when there is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. People may have a sensorineural hearing loss and then develop a conductive component in addition to their original loss.


Central Hearing Loss

Also called “central deafness.” This results from damage or impairment of the nerves or nuclei of the central nervous system, either in the pathways to the brain or in the brain itself. Another phenomenon is “central auditory processing deficit,” in which the person has normal hearing, but has difficulty processing and understanding the sounds.  For more information on central hearing loss, go to


 Classification of Hearing Loss


Classification of hearing level                                     Hearing Threshold Range

Normal hearing

0—25 dB HL

Mild hearing loss

26—40 dB HL

Moderate hearing loss

41—55 dB HL

Moderately-severe hearing loss

56—70 dB HL

Severe hearing loss

71—90 dB HL

Profound hearing loss

91+ dB HL









Types of Hearing Loss
© Copyright August 3, 2016 , Timothy C. Hain, M.D. All rights reserved. Last saved on August 3, 2016