The different types and causes of hearing loss

Having a hearing loss or hearing impairment means that your ability to hear has been diminished. There are many causes of hearing loss but up to recently we believed the most common cause was the ageing process. The name given for age related hearing loss is presbyacusis or acquired hearing loss - Presbyacusis is a subset of what is known as Sensorineural hearing loss, which is commonly called Nerve Deafness. 

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair cells in your cochlea (inner ear) that detect sound are injured, diseased, do not work correctly, or have been destroyed. Those hair cells are in fact nerve endings that are responsible for sending electrical stimulation to the brain. This type of hearing loss can't be reversed at this time although there are many studies being undertaken to new types of treatment.

Sensorineural hearing loss is commonly caused by:
  • Presbyacusis.
  • Acoustic neuroma.
  • Childhood infections, such as meningitis, mumps, scarlet fever, and measles.
  • Meniere's disease.

Regular exposure to loud noise is called noise induced hearing loss. Noise exposure accelerates the natural deterioration of our hearing, noise can do terrible and permanent damage.

A sensorineural hearing loss reduces the ability to hear faint sounds or discriminate speech. Even when speech is loud enough to hear, it may still be unclear or sound muffled. Speech is exceptionally difficult to hear in most cases if there are any competing sounds such as background noise.


Presbyacusis is an acquired sensorineural hearing loss which affects older people. Presbyacusis usually affects the mid and high frequencies, affecting speech discrimination. Presbyacusis is a gradual process, many factors could contribute to hearing loss such as noise in work, loud music, general environmental noise if you live in a noisy city, diet, ototoxic drugs, smoking, heart disease and stress.

Hearing loss affects around 10% of the population. In Ireland it means there are around 400,000 people with a hearing problem or hearing impairment. Only a small number of those who need a hearing aid system actually use one, putting themselves at many disadvantages and greatly reducing their quality of life.

There are many consequences of hearing loss, be they physical, social or physiological. Hearing loss can lead to problems such as social exclusion, isolation from family and friends, depression, anger, stress, irritability, withdrawal, loneliness, embarrassment, denial, boredom, social rejection, feelings of inadequacy, misinformation, increased irritability, anxiety and fatigue.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the tiny bones (ossicles) of the middle ear. Conductive hearing loss usually involves a reduction in sound level or the ability to hear faint sounds.Some possible causes of conductive hearing loss are:

Fluid in the middle ear.

Ear infection (otitis media).

Perforated eardrum.

Impacted earwax.

Infection in the ear canal.

Swimmer's Ear.

Presence of a foreign body.

Absence or malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear.


Mixed Hearing Loss

Sometimes a conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with a sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve. When this occurs, the hearing loss is referred to as a mixed hearing loss.

Untreated hearing loss has a great affect on life and relationships causing isolation and depression. There is a solution for almost everyone with a hearing loss, so if you think you have a problem get a hearing test and look at solutions. Nobody should suffer on.

So if you are interested in hearing aids or a hearing test in Guernsey, why don't you call us on 01 481 245999 for an appointment or book your appointment online below.