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Understanding Hearing Loss

There are effectively three main parts to the ear.

1. THE OUTER EAR – This includes the pinna (the part of the ear that you can see) and the ear canal.
2. THE MIDDLE EAR – This includes the ear drum and the three middle ear bones.
3. THE INNER EAR OR COCHLEA – This includes the nerves that send impulses to the brain to allow us to hear.


The outer ear collects the sounds and channels it down the ear canal towards the ear drum. When the sound hits the ear drum it vibrates and passes these vibrations along the three middle ear bones. The inner ear “converts” these vibrations via tiny hair cells into electrical impulses.

These impulses are then passed along the auditory nerve to the brain where they are interpreted as sound.


Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss and is present when there is damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. The major cause of this is the ageing process (presbyacusis). Other causes can be exposure to noise, disease, ototoxic medication or trauma. Even people with a mild degree of this type of loss may experience difficulty understanding conversation in background noise and struggle with high pitched sounds, more severe cases can result in difficulty even in one to one conversation. Sensorineural hearing loss is treated with the use of hearing aids.

Conductive Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss occurs when the sound is interrupted along its normal course through the outer and middle ear. Common causes of this type of loss are build-up of wax in the ear canal, perforated ear drum, fluid present in the middle ear or damaged middle ear bones. Conductive hearing loss is usually treated medically.

Mixed Hearing Loss
Some people suffer from both a sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. An example of this could be when somebody has a blockage with wax along with damage to the cochlea. A mixed loss is usually treated both medically along with hearing aids.

The only true way to ascertain the degree and type of your hearing loss, if any, is to have a thorough hearing test.

To book your free hearing test please call 0800 619 0023 or 0800 619 0024



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