Up to 20% of Americans report a certain level of hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD). One of the greatest predictors of hearing loss is age. As a result, many people consider hearing loss as just another part of the aging process.
However, hearing loss can affect people of any age. It can occur at any stage in life. In some cases, hearing loss may be genetic. In other cases, it can be the result of environmental influences.
There are two main types of hearing loss: Sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. In some cases, people may experience both types of hearing loss at the same time. This is referred to as mixed hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. Estimates show that 9 out of every 10 cases of hearing loss can be categorized as sensorineural. You can read more about this type of hearing loss here.
Conductive hearing loss is less common. Today, we’re exploring the top causes of conductive hearing loss.
What is Conductive Hearing Loss?
As mentioned above, there is a common misconception that hearing loss is a normal part of getting older. It happens gradually over time, and is just something to be accepted, right?
In some cases – sure. Age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis, is common in older adults. The NIDCD estimates that 25% of adults over the age of 65 have disabling hearing loss. That figure rises to 50% of adults over the age of 75. This form of hearing loss is sensorineural.
There are, however, other causes of hearing loss. These can include:
- Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL)
- Injury or trauma
- Ototoxic hearing loss – hearing loss that is the result of medication
- Obstruction or blockage in your ear
This last cause of hearing loss, a blockage of obstruction, is known as conductive hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss happens when problems with the eardrum, bones, muscles or ligaments in the middle ear prevent sounds from passing through to the inner ear. Blockages in the outer or middle ear slow down the vibrations of incoming sound, which results in hearing loss.
Top Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss
There are a number of causes of conductive hearing loss. Common causes include:
The most common cause of conductive hearing loss is an ear infection. The infection is frequently bacterial in origin. Infection can result in swelling in your ear canal. This swelling can make it difficult for sound waves to pass through.
In some cases, the swelling can be bad enough to prevent any sound passing through at all. If you believe you may have an ear infection, we recommend booking an appointment to speak to your general health practitioner.
Colds / Allergies
Allergies or a cold can cause conductive hearing loss. This is down to our body’s natural immune response, which can cause inflammation. Just like with an infection, the inflammation or swelling – if it affects your ear canal – can prevent sound waves from traveling through.
Colds and allergies can also cause a buildup of fluid in your ears. If too much fluid is present, it can block your ear canal. This results in hearing loss.
Earwax is a natural substance that we all produce. It plays an important role in keeping our ears healthy. It helps protect our ears and keep them clean.
Generally, earwax works its way out of your ear naturally. Sometimes, though, our bodies produce too much earwax. This excess of earwax can obstruct our ear canal and prevent sounds from getting through.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t try to remove excess earwax by putting something in your ear. Learn more about how you can clear an earwax build up by clicking here.
A foreign object in your ear could result in conductive hearing loss. Removing the object will generally restore normal hearing.
Symptoms of conductive hearing loss can include:
- Muffled speech
- A feeling of fullness in your ear
- Pain in your ear
- Discharge from your ear
Most cases of conductive hearing loss are treatable. Treatment often restores normal hearing. For a concrete diagnosis of conductive hearing loss, it’s important to work with your local hearing healthcare practitioner.
Still Have a Question? Contact Us Today!
If you’d like to discuss this further, please get in touch with a hearing care professional at Anderson Audiology. To book an appointment, call us on 702-997-2964. Alternatively, click here to request an appointment online.