image shows woman with Conductive hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

What is conductive hearing loss?

Conductive hearing loss occurs in the outer or middle part of the ear, where sound is converted to vibrations and sent to the inner ear. This type of hearing loss refers to issues with transferring sound waves (due to a blockage or other impediment.)

Excessive ear wax, a ruptured ear drum, or even ear infections can result in conductive hearing loss.

Hearing loss types

Image shows where conductive  hearing loss occurs in the ear
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Schedule a free hearing test to find out if you have conductive or any other type of hearing loss. A hearing care professional will guide you and explain the result of your test.
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What causes conductive hearing loss?

Conductive hearing loss is a type of hearing loss that is often easily identifiable. The following causes have been associated with this type of hearing loss:

  • Wax build-up
  • Fluid in the ear
  • Ear infections
  • Damage to the ear drum
  • Trauma
  • Diseases such as osteoporosis and otosclerosis

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What is the difference between conductive and sensorineural hearing loss?

Hearing loss is divided into the following categories (based on which part of the ear is damaged): sensorineural, conductive, and mixed hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss is usually the result of a disruption to the sound's path as it travels from the outer/middle ear to the inner ear, while sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the delicate nerve fibres of the inner ear become damaged.

Mixed hearing loss occurs when both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss occur in the same ear.

Sensorineural hearing loss

3 signs of conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is sometimes accompanied by pain or discomfort - or the feeling that "something is wrong" in the ear. Other common signs of conductive hearing loss may include:

Image shows woman holding hand  close to her ear
1. Speech and other sounds seem distant or muffled
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2. Pain, pressure, or discharge in the ear
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3. A feeling of "fullness" in the ear
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Treatment for conductive hearing loss

Time may be all that is needed to recover from less severe cases of conductive hearing loss. In other cases, conductive hearing loss can be treated medically in one of the following ways:

  • Antibiotics and anti-fungal medications can treat hearing loss caused by an ear infection
  • Surgery may be recommended to repair damages to the eardrum or middle ear, if present
  • Hearing aids may also be an option if other forms of treatment have not been sufficient
  • Bone-anchored hearing systems

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FAQs about conductive hearing loss