Hearing loss sounds simple enough, right? One day you can hear perfectly well and the next you can’t. But that is far from the whole picture. Did you know there are 3 different kinds of hearing loss? Did you know that there are even more different causes of hearing loss?

With more than 1 in 10 Americans experiencing some level of hearing loss, odds are you know someone who has it or perhaps you’re experiencing the symptoms of hearing loss yourself.

Getting to grips with hearing loss is a lot easier once you know a bit about it. That’s why we at Big Thicket Hearing Aids & Audiology have put together this blog to guide you through the different kinds of hearing loss.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Your ears are complex. They have 3 parts, the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. Sounds from the outside need to pass through each of these segments so that your brain can ultimately process them. Conductive hearing loss happens when sound can’t effectively get from the outer ear to the inner ear.

Sometimes the cause of conductive hearing loss is as simple as a build-up of earwax, in which case clearing this out will restore hearing. Other causes of temporary conductive hearing loss include fluid build-up due to an ear infection or a ruptured eardrum (which in most cases will heal by itself).

However, sometimes conductive hearing loss is caused by changes to the tiny bones that live within the middle ear. This can often be treated with surgery.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

When sounds reach your inner ear they need to be converted into signals that travel along your auditory nerve to the brain, where these signals are processed so that you can understand the sounds around you. Sensorineural hearing loss happens when there are problems with the inner ear or the auditory nerve.

Common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include damage to the inner ear caused by loud noises, head trauma, and aging. Repeated exposure to loud noises can result in sensorineural hearing loss, such as working on a construction site without proper hearing protection or listening to loud music often.

However, sometimes noise-induced hearing loss can be sudden, such as being close to an explosion. Other causes of sensorineural hearing loss include Meniere’s disease, genetics, and abnormalities in the shape of the inner ear.

Sensorineural hearing loss due to loud noises or aging can most often be effectively treated with hearing aids.


As the name suggests, mixed hearing loss is a mix of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. In these cases treatment may involve hearing aids, as well as medication and/or surgery.

If you are worried that you or, a loved one has hearing loss, come to see us at  Big Thicket Hearing Aids & Audiology for a complete hearing test. We’ll get to the bottom of your hearing loss so you can get the treatment you need.

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Dr. Joni A. Ruiz AuD

Dr. Joni Ruiz is the owner and doctor of audiology at Big Thicket Hearing Aids and Audiology. She earned her doctorate of audiology in 2009 from Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. Selected for a prestigious fourth-year externship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Dr. Ruiz has more than ten years’ experience as an audiologist. She has a heart for patient-centered care. At her hearing care practice, she performs comprehensive diagnostic audiological evaluations, provides aural rehabilitation to her patients and their loved ones, dispenses state of the art hearing aids, and manages the care of said devices for their life. Dr. Ruiz is dedicated to patient education regarding hearing loss, hearing protection, and hearing aid selection.
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