It’s estimated that approximately 65 million people, or 20% of Americans, report a degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss can happen at any stage in life, from those born with a hearing impairment up to the elderly who may experience age-related hearing loss. It’s highly likely that even if hearing loss hasn’t affected you directly, you know someone who has been affected.
Hearing loss can be broken into two primary types: conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. It’s also possible to experience both types of hearing loss at the same time, known as mixed hearing loss. Today, we’re looking at the top causes of conductive hearing loss.
What is Conductive Hearing Loss?
When many of us think about hearing loss, we think of it as being something that happens gradually over time. In fact, many of us may think of it as being a normal part of the aging process. Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is not the only cause of hearing loss; there are multiple causes that can include noise, injury, ototoxic medication, or a blockage. Hearing loss caused by an obstruction or blockage in your ear is referred to 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. Some of the top causes include:
- Ear Infections: An infection is the most common cause of conductive hearing loss. Generally, the infections are bacterial in origin, although in some cases they may have another origin. An infection can cause swelling in the ear canal, at times to the point that no sounds are able to get through. If you suspect that an ear infection is causing hearing loss, we recommend booking in to see your general health practitioner.
- Colds & Allergies: Hearing loss caused by a cold or allergies could be the result of two things. Inflammation is our body’s natural response, which can hinder sound vibrations getting through. Colds and allergies can also produce an excess of fluid. Excess fluid build up in your ears or inflammation can both block your ear canals, resulting in conductive hearing loss.
- Earwax: Earwax is a natural substance that your ears produce. Its role is to protect your ears from water and infection. It also plays an important part in protecting and cleaning your ears. For the most part, earwax will work its way out of your ear naturally. However, in some cases, an excess of earwax could be blocking sounds from entering your inner ear. Please do not try to insert anything into your ear, like a Q-tip, to remove the wax. We recommend booking in an appointment with your local hearing clinic. The hearing specialists will be able to clean out your ears and provide you safe cleaning instructions for the future.
- Physical Obstruction: A foreign object in your ear could result in conductive hearing loss. Removing the object will generally restore normal hearing.
The symptoms of conductive hearing loss may include hearing muffled speech, a feeling of fullness in the ear, or pain or discharge from your ear.
In most cases, conductive hearing loss can be treated and your hearing can be restored. If you notice any changes to your hearing, we recommend booking in an appointment with the hearing specialists at Hearing, Balance & Speech Center as soon as possible. Request an appointment online.