Types of Hearing Loss | Genetic and Non-Genetic

Adult women signing to each other

Hearing loss affects people of all ages and can happen when any part of the ear or auditory system is not working properly. The four most basic categories of hearing loss are conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, and auditory neural spectrum disorder.

Hearing loss can be caused by many different factors, like loud noises, infections, illnesses, and even certain prescription drugs. In this article, we’ll be discussing the different types of hearing loss, both genetic and non-genetic.


What Are the Types of Hearing Loss?


Conductive Hearing Loss

This category of hearing loss occurs in the middle or outer ear when sound waves are not able to travel to the inner ear. Sound can be blocked by a foreign object in the ear canal or by earwax. The middle space of the ear can be affected by an infection, built-up fluid, or a bone abnormality, or the eardrum may have been injured.

Reversing conductive hearing loss requires medical or surgical treatment. This hearing loss category is most common in children who insert objects into their ear canal or have recurrent ear infections. This type of hearing loss is non-genetic.


Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the hearing nerve itself, or the inner ear, is damaged. This can occur when the hair cells inside the cochlea are damaged. This type of hearing loss is the most common and is caused by aging, loud noises, injuries, diseases, certain drugs, or genetics. One of the only ways to treat this condition is by using hearing aids.

Sensorineural hearing loss can occur suddenly or over the course of a few days. If you notice any signs of this kind of hearing loss, it’s vital to see a doctor who specializes in diseases of the ear. If you delay treating this condition for two or more weeks of experiencing symptoms, the chance of improving the problem decreases. Sensorineural and sudden sensorineural hearing loss can be genetic.


Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss is exactly what the name implies. Some patients have a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. This may happen when they have sensorineural hearing loss and then develop conductive hearing loss later. Parts of mixed hearing loss can be genetic.

If you’re curious about what type of hearing loss you may have, a hearing test will help determine what treatment and hearing care solution is right for you. Hearing aids and other alternatives are also available in many different sizes, styles, and technologies.


Auditory Neural Spectrum Disorder

Sound enters the ear like it normally would, but because of damage to the hearing nerve, or inner ear, sound can’t be organized in a way that the brain understands. This causes auditory neural spectrum disorder. This type of hearing loss is mainly genetic.


Hearing Loss in Adults

It has been proven that people over the age of 50 may experience gradual hearing loss because of age-related changes in the ear or auditory nerve. There is a medical term for this type of hearing loss: presbycusis. This may make it hard for older adults to tolerate loud noises and sounds or to hear what people are saying. Some other causes of hearing loss in adults consist of:

  • Loud noises
  • Head injuries
  • Infections
  • Illnesses
  • Some prescription drugs
  • Genetics


Describing Hearing Loss

There are also different ways to describe hearing loss, including:

  • Unilateral or Bilateral: unilateral hearing loss is in one ear, while bilateral hearing loss is in both ears
  • Fluctuating or Stable: fluctuating hearing loss gets better or worse over time, while stable hearing loss remains static
  • Symmetrical or Asymmetrical: symmetrical hearing loss is the same level of hearing loss in both ears, while asymmetrical hearing loss is different
  • Pre-lingual or Post-lingual: pre-lingual hearing loss is when a person develops hearing loss before they learn to talk, while post-lingual occurs after a person learns to talk
  • Progressive or Sudden: progressive hearing loss worsens over time, while sudden hearing loss happens almost immediately
  • Congenital or Acquired: congenital hearing loss is present at birth, while acquired hearing loss happens later in life

Typically, most adults receive hearing tests early in life, sometimes during grade school. However, it’s good to get your hearing checked out at least once a year during your annual physical.

Amdahl Hearing provides many services, including hearing testing, custom hearing protection, hearing aid repair, and custom earbuds or musician monitors. If you would like to learn more about hearing loss, and what you can do for treatment and prevention, check out our website and blog. Contact us today to learn more about our hearing loss solutions.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.