Mixed Hearing Loss

What is mixed hearing loss?

Mixed hearing loss is a type of hearing difficulty that is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. When there is damage to the outer or middle ear’s ability to conduct sound waves along with the inner ear and/or the auditory nerve’s ability to process sound data and pass it along to the brain, this is known as mixed hearing loss. 

There are a number of different medical terms that can be used to describe specific types of mixed hearing loss. If the condition only presents on one side of the patient, it is known as unilateral mixed hearing loss. If it presents on both sides it is known as bilateral mixed hearing loss. Mixed hearing loss can range in severity from mild to moderate, severe, profound or even total.

If the pattern of mixed hearing loss is the same in both ears, it is described as symmetrical. If it differs in each ear, it is known as asymmetrical. Additionally, mixed hearing loss 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. 

What are the signs and symptoms of mixed hearing loss?

The most pronounced symptom of mixed hearing loss is a decreased ability to hear sounds, especially faint sounds. However, as mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, symptoms of either or both conditions may also be present. These additional symptoms can include a feeling of pressure or pain in one or both ears, vertigo or balance issues, ringing in the ears or your own voice sounding “off.”

If you experience any off these possible signs of mixed hearing loss, be sure to schedule a free hearing exam with a Miracle-Ear hearing specialist. 

What causes mixed hearing loss?

Mixed hearing loss is caused by a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Sometimes those causes can be one in the same, such as with head trauma that affects multiple parts of the ear. However, they can also be caused by separate issues.

The leading cause of sensorineural hearing loss is aging. This specific type of hearing loss is known as presbycusis, and it generally takes shape over a number of years. Conductive hearing loss is most often due to events that affect the physical structure of the outer or middle ear. However, both types of hearing loss can be caused in other ways. A hearing specialist from Miracle-Ear may be able to help you assess the likely causes of your mixed hearing loss. 

How is mixed hearing loss diagnosed?

The most common form of diagnosis for mixed hearing loss 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, called an audiogram, is interpreted by the hearing specialist to determine the type and severity of hearing loss a patient is experiencing.

How can mixed hearing loss be treated?

The conductive portion of mixed hearing loss, depending on the underlying cause, can often be treated with medical or surgical techniques. The sensorineural portion of mixed hearing loss, however, is generally not treatable with medical or surgical procedures―with some rare exceptions. The most likely treatment option for mixed hearing loss will likely be some form of medical or surgical intervention in combination with sound amplification from hearing aids. It’s important to remember, though, that every case of mixed hearing loss is unique. A hearing specialist from Miracle-Ear can help you determine what options are available to you. 

With proper professional guidance and a well-considered plan of intervention, it is possible to minimize the impact of mixed hearing loss on your day-to-day life. Find a Miracle-Ear location near you today to discover your hearing support solutions.

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