Conductive hearing loss: What you need to know about its causes and treatments

Conductive hearing loss

The human ear is a complex system composed of three major areas: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Each part of this system works with the others to convey sound from the outside through these three areas to the brain, where it can be interpreted. When sound is not conducted through the organs properly, you may experience conductive hearing loss.

Causes of hearing loss

The Hearing Loss Association of America defines conductive hearing loss as “…due to problems with the ear canal, eardrum, or middle ear and its little bones (the malleus, incus, and stapes).” These problems can be structural, such as when caused by congenital malformations of the anatomy of the ear or otosclerosis, where abnormal bone growth prevents the bones of the ear from transmitting sound, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).

Conduction can also be disrupted by your physical health — conditions like allergies, ear infections, fluid in the ear canal from colds, benign tumors and impacted earwax. Traumatic events, like a perforated ear drum or the insertion of a foreign object into the ear canal, can also present problems.

Treatment options

Fortunately, many types of conductive hearing loss can be treated and reversed. And even if your hearing is not completely improved, there are procedures to help make up the deficit. The Hearing Loss Association of America details some of the treatments for conductive hearing loss. As you can imagine, they focus on determining the cause of the loss and correcting it.

If, for example, you’re suffering from an ear infection that is disrupting your hearing, antibiotics or antifungals may be used to help clear the infection. Surgery can help in draining excess fluid from the ear canal, removing tumors, and in remodeling the inner ear, as in cases of otosclerosis. Impacted earwax may be removed by home remedies or with the assistance of a physician, notes the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

Failure of these treatments may require you to use a conventional hearing aid, a bone-conduction hearing system or another implanted device that is surgically placed into the bone to conduct sound through the bones of the skull, as Oticon Medical explains.

How to get help

If you’re experiencing difficulty hearing, you should consult your physician, who can help treat your hearing loss or refer you to a specialized provider at Reid Health. You may need to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist — officially called an otolaryngologist, or more commonly an ENT — who can further assess the underlying cause of your hearing loss and is trained to treat and even perform surgical procedures deep within the ear. The Hearing Loss Association of America recommends that an audiologist may also be helpful in determining hearing loss and managing assistive devices.

Don’t spend another day struggling with hearing loss. If you suspect you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, consult a professional who can help you get your hearing back today.

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