What are the types of hearing loss?

Just as hearing loss can have different causes, there are also different types of hearing loss depending on the character and/or the cause of the hearing loss. In this article, you will find an overview of the different types and categories of hearing loss.

The different types of hearing loss

“What are the two types of hearing loss?” The types of hearing loss are mostly defined by the cause or the character of the hearing loss. But the two major types of hearing loss are sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. The other types of hearing loss are either sub-types or a combination of one of the two. A sensorineural hearing loss is related to hearing problems in the inner ear, whereas a conductive hearing loss is related to problems with conducting sound into the inner ear.

The most common types of hearing loss or classifications of hearing loss are:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss
  • Conductive hearing loss
  • Mixed hearing loss
  • Ski slope hearing loss
  • Cookie bite hearing loss
  • High-frequency hearing loss
  • Low-frequency hearing loss
  • Bilateral hearing loss
  • Unilateral hearing loss / single-sided deafness
  • Temporary hearing loss
  • Permanent hearing loss
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Noise-induced hearing loss
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Genetic hearing loss

If you would like to learn more about hearing loss in general, we recommend our article “What is hearing loss?”.

Sensorineural, conductive and mixed hearing loss

A sensorineural hearing loss  is caused by damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. The causes of a sensorineural hearing loss can for example be noise, age, medication and lifestyle as well as genetic causes.  Special types of a sensorineural hearing loss are known as ski slope hearing loss and cookie bite hearing loss.  

A conductive hearing loss is caused by the ability to conduct sound from the outer ear and the middle ear into the inner ear being reduced or lost.

You can also have a sensorineural hearing loss and a conductive hearing loss at the same time. Then it is called a mixed hearing loss.

Special types of a sensorineural hearing loss are known as ski slope hearing loss and cookie bite hearing loss.

We speak of mixed hearing loss when a person is suffering from sensorineural and conductive hearing loss at the same time.

Hearing loss in one or both ears

You can have hearing impairment in one ear or in both ears. If you have a hearing loss in just one ear it is called single sided deafness or unilateral hearing loss. If you have hearing loss on both ears it is called a bilateral hearing loss.

Temporary or permanent hearing loss

You can have a temporary hearing loss or you can have a permanent hearing loss. A temporary hearing loss is also called a temporary threshold shift. A permanent hearing loss is called a permanent threshold shift.

Sudden hearing loss

A hearing loss can occur suddenly, and then it is called a sudden hearing loss. This type of hearing loss can occur from head trauma, viral infections or sudden loud sounds but sometimes the cause may not be clear or identified.

Name after causes

Hearing losses can also be named by their causes. A noise-induced hearing loss is caused by exposure to loud noise.  An age-related hearing loss (also called presbyacusis) is caused by ageing. And a genetic hearing loss is caused by genetic factors and gene mutations.

Low-frequency hearing loss and high-frequency hearing loss:

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