This topic provides information about mixed hearing loss. Be sure to check our general page on all types of hearing loss if you are looking for more information.
What is Mixed Hearing Loss?
A mixed hearing loss is the combination of a conductive hearing loss on top of a sensorineural hearing loss. It means that there is a dysfunction of both the outer or middle ear (conductive component) and the inner ear or auditory nerve (sensorineural component).
What Causes Mixed Hearing Loss?
A person can be born with a mixed hearing loss if the outer ear or middle ear and the inner ear are malformed. In most cases, a mixed hearing loss occurs if someone with a permanent sensorineural hearing loss develops a conductive hearing loss. The conductive component may be the result of an ear infection, wax build-up in the ears, or other cause of conductive hearing loss.
What are the Symptoms of Mixed Hearing Loss?
Symptoms of a mixed hearing loss can include both the symptoms of a conductive hearing loss and a sensorineural hearing loss, including:
- Fullness or pressure in the ear
- Pain the ear
- Difficulty hearing or understanding conversation, especially in noisy environments
- Difficulty understanding television
How is it Diagnosed?
A mixed hearing loss is diagnosed by an Audiologist after completing a comprehensive hearing evaluation. Testing for a mixed hearing loss will typically include the following:
- Acoustic Reflexes
- Air conduction pure-tone thresholds
- Bone conduction pure-tone thresholds
- Speech discrimination test
The use of these tests will determine whether the hearing loss is mixed, or whether it is a different type of hearing loss.
How is it Treated?
The combination of the sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss will result in a greater mixed hearing loss. With a mixed hearing loss, the conductive component of the hearing loss may be treated. The sensorineural component of the hearing loss is likely permanent. Once the conductive component is treated, the mixed hearing loss will diminish to a sensorineural hearing loss.
For example, if someone with a permanent sensorineural hearing loss develops an ear infection, the hearing loss will now be termed a mixed hearing loss and the severity of the hearing loss will likely increase. Once the ear infection is treated, the hearing will improve back to where it was prior to the ear infection but the sensorineural component will still be there.
The severity of this type of hearing loss will vary greatly, depending on how severe each component of the mixed hearing loss is.