Conductive hearing loss (CHL) is a type of hearing difficulty caused by issues with the outer or middle ear. As the name suggests, sound is not conducted effectively through the middle ear and ear drum. Because of this, sound vibrations are significantly diminished before they reach the organs of the inner ear that are responsible for interpreting those vibrations and delivering sound to the brain.
Many different medical terms can be used to describe specific types of CHL. If the condition only presents on one side of the patient, it is known as unilateral conductive hearing loss. If it presents on both sides, it is known as bilateral conductive hearing loss. CHL can range in severity from mild to moderate, severe, profound or even total.
If the pattern of CHL is the same in both ears, it is described as symmetrical. If it differs in each ear, it is known as asymmetrical. Additionally, CHL can be further described in relation to what frequencies of hearing are affected. Common descriptors related to frequency sensitivity include high-frequency and low-frequency among others.
The most pronounced symptom of CHL is almost always a decreased ability to hear sounds, especially faint sounds. Other commonly reported signs and symptoms of CHL include the perception of your voice as sounding unusual and a sensation of pain or pressure in one or both ears.
It is difficult, if not nearly impossible, to differentiate CHL from other types of hearing loss without professional testing. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms of possible CHL, be sure to schedule a free hearing exam with a Miracle-Ear hearing specialist today.
The causes of CHL are usually ones that affect the physical structure of the outer or middle ear. Conditions such as a tumor in the ear canal, a perforated eardrum or fluid buildup can all result in a CHL. Any condition that results in difficulty conducting sound waves could be the culprit of CHL.
One common cause of CHL is the collection of earwax or other blockage to the ear canal by a foreign body. Thankfully, these types of conditions can usually be remedied without great effort.
The most common form of diagnosis for CHL is audiometry in combination with a local examination of the ears, nose, throat and neck and a detailed patient history. The history and physical examination are utilized to detect possible structural issues while the audiometry examines the severity of hearing loss in detail.
Audiometry is a type of hearing test conducted by a hearing specialist on a device known as an audiometer. The result of this test, known as an audiogram, is interpreted by the hearing specialist to determine the type and severity of hearing loss a patient is experiencing.
Several forms of CHL, depending on the underlying cause, can be treated with medical or surgical techniques. If such techniques aren’t applicable to your form of CHL, it is possible that supportive medical intervention is the most appropriate route of treatment. In those cases, sound amplification with hearing aids is often a warranted approach.