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There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss occurs due to problems with the ear canal, eardrum, or middle ear.

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by issues with the inner ear and ear nerves. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Keep reading to find out more about mixed hearing loss!

Causes and Signs of Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss can occur in one or both ears, and indicates that there is some kind of damage to both the outer or middle ear and the inner ear. So how does it happen?

Aging is one of the biggest factors in sensorineural hearing loss. Age, compounded with factors such as overexposure to loud noise, genetic predisposition, or certain medications can lead to a person suffering from mixed hearing loss. Other causes of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss are birth defects, diseases or infections, tumors, and head injuries.

Mixed Hearing Loss: Uncovering the Different Presentations, Signs, and Symptoms

A person with mixed hearing loss may present signs of hearing loss in different ways, depending on the degree of each component of hearing loss. One of the main signs of mixed hearing loss is the inability to hear people clearly.

More specific warning signs include frequent requests for repetition, fatigue from straining to hear, avoiding social situations because of the difficulty following conversations in noisy areas. Hearing loss that is more sensorineural will create difficulties in understanding other people’s speech, even though the volume often seems loud enough. Conversely, hearing loss that is more conductive may not greatly affect understanding of speech, but it will require sounds to be louder than normal.

Addressing Mixed Hearing Loss

You might be wondering how to treat mixed hearing loss since there are so many different causes. The Hearing Loss Association of America recommends addressing the cause of conductive hearing loss first, before the sensorineural. However, each person must be treated individually because the degree of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss differs from person to person.

While sensorineural or conductive hearing loss alone can sometimes be treated with antibiotics, corticosteroids, or drug therapy, mixed hearing loss treatment is often more complex. The aforementioned treatments may be combined with medical surgery, hearing aids, or cochlear implants, depending on the causes of the different types of hearing loss.

As always, it is best to make an appointment with an audiologist if you suspect you are suffering from hearing loss. An audiologist can properly diagnose the causes of hearing loss and come up with a specialized treatment plan for your medical needs.

By Elena McPhillips, Updated in 2021