What’s the Difference Between Sensorineural & Conductive Hearing Loss?

An estimated 15% of adults over the age of 18 in the United States report having difficulty hearing. Hearing loss is very common. If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss, you’re certainly not alone.

Understanding the different types of hearing loss can help you make more informed decisions in the future. Today, we’re looking at the difference between sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.

What are the Types of Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can be broken into three basic categories:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss
  • Conductive hearing loss
  • Mixed hearing loss

What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

90% of people in the U.S. with hearing loss will have sensorineural hearing loss. It is the most common form of hearing loss. It is caused by damage to the delicate hair cells in your ear. It can also be the result of damage to nerves involved in carrying auditory information from your ear to your brain.

Learn more about the causes, symptoms and treatments for sensorineural hearing loss here.

What is Conductive Hearing Loss?

Conductive hearing loss is caused by a blockage in your ear. If you have an obstruction or blockage lodged in your ear, it can interfere with sound vibrations entering your ear. This can cause hearing loss.

Common causes of conductive hearing loss include:

  • Colds
  • Allergies
  • Ear Infection
  • Earwax
  • Physical blockage / obstruction

In most cases, conductive hearing loss is treatable by addressing the blockage or obstruction.

What is Mixed Hearing Loss?

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Mixed hearing loss can happen if you already have hearing loss, and then end up with an obstruction causing conductive hearing loss.

What’s the Difference Between Sensorineural & Conductive Hearing Loss?

Now that we’ve covered the main types of hearing loss, we can look at the differences between them. The biggest difference between sensorineural and conductive hearing loss is their causes and treatment options.

Common Causes of Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss

Some of the more common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:

  • Age related hearing loss (presbycusis)
  • Noise exposure (Noise induced hearing loss)

Other, less common causes of sensorineural hearing loss may include:

  • Injury to your inner ear
  • Viruses (such as mumps)
  • Ototoxicity (hearing loss due to medicines)
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease

Common causes of conductive hearing loss include:

  • Earwax
  • Infection
  • Blockage or obstruction
  • Allergies or general congestion

Treatment Options for Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss

Common treatment options for sensorineural hearing loss include:

  • Hearing aids
  • A cochlear implant

Common treatment options for conductive hearing loss include:

  • Removal of the blockage or obstruction
  • Treating underlying cause (congestion, virus, allergies)
  • Surgery

Hearing loss happens gradually over time. As a result, it can often be difficult to spot early on. Read more about the common signs of hearing loss here.

If you suspect that your hearing has changed, please book in an appointment with our hearing healthcare team. Earlier intervention can help protect your hearing into the future. To book an appointment with HearingLife (formerly Family Audiology), call 607-323-4061 or click here to book a consultation with us online.

Speak with a Specialist

Ready to start your journey to better hearing? Let our hearing care professionals find the right solution for you.

Schedule an Appointment

© 2021 HearingLife (formerly Family Audiology). All right reserved. | Privacy Policy

The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness to determine if the client(s) may benefit from using hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Test conclusion may not be a medical diagnosis. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Testing is to evaluate your hearing wellness, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals. One offer per customer. Insurance benefit, including Managed Care or federal reimbursements, cannot be combined with any of our promotional offers, coupons or discounts. Other terms may apply. See office for details.


Safety today and every day after – We are open

As a company focused on care, our HearingLife (formerly HearingLife (formerly Family Audiology)) team is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our customers and staff. Together with our communities, we pledge to do everything we can to ensure you have a safe visit as we honor our mission to help people hear better.