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What is Conductive Hearing Loss?
Conductive hearing loss happens when sound can’t be conducted through your outer and middle ear to reach your inner ear.
We’ve all had those visitors we try to pause at the front door or hallway rather than allow them into the living room. With conductive hearing loss, your ears behave a bit like this, trapping sound before it can reach your inner ear.
As a result, loud sounds are muffled, and soft sounds might be hard to hear. It’s a bit like trying to hear someone talking on the other side of a wall.
Conductive hearing loss is a physical blockage of the ear canal or the inability of the outer, middle or inner ear to transmit sound waves effectively.
Conductive hearing loss is often the symptom of other health conditions or injuries such as impacted earwax, an ear infection, surfer’s ear or a ruptured eardrum.
10 Possible Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss
- Something stuck in your ear, like impacted ear wax or a foreign object.
- Fluid in your middle ear, resulting from a cold or a middle ear infection (otitis media).
- A perforated eardrum.
- An infection in the ear canal, also known as swimmer’s ear.
- Abnormal bone growth within the ear canal, also known as surfer’s ear.
- A blocked Eustachian tube that doesn’t drain well.
- Otosclerosis is a genetic disorder that causes abnormal bone growth in the middle ear.
- Cholesteatoma is an abnormal, non-cancerous skin growth in your middle ear.
- Labyrinthitis is inflammation of the inner ear or the vestibulocochlear nerves connecting the inner ear to the brain.
How is Conductive Loss Treated?
Conductive hearing loss is often easily treated on the spot, such as with ear microsuction to remove earwax or debris. Other treatments include:
Antibiotics or antifungal medications can treat infections of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear and deal with middle ear fluid.
Surgery to repair the middle ear’s structures, for example, after head trauma or due to otosclerosis.
Amplifying sound with a bone-conduction hearing aid, a surgically implanted device or a conventional hearing aid.
The good news is that many cases of conductive hearing loss are easily resolved and often do get better with treatment.