Conductive hearing loss
The term conductive hearing loss is used to describe hearing loss in the outer or middle ear.
What is it?
Conductive hearing loss occurs when something is blocking sound waves from passing to the inner ear, through the outer and middle ear. You can easily mimic conductive hearing loss by plugging your ear, that’s basically what it’s like.
What are the causes?
The causes that can lead to conductive hearing loss are varied and include conditions such as middle ear infections (otitis media), benign tumours (cholesteatomas), perforated eardrums, trauma and malformations of the middle or outer ear.
What are the signs?
With conductive hearing loss, speech tends to sound understandable, but only if it's loud enough and there isn't too much background noise. Hearing aids may help, but sometimes not enough.
What are the treatments?
For many people with conductive hearing loss, the first solution may be to get a hearing aid. This may be adequate if the hearing loss is mild, but if the hearing loss is moderate or worse a hearing aid is seldom the best solution. There may also be other reasons why people aren’t able to use hearing aids (e.g. malformations that make using a hearing aid impossible), or just aren’t getting the benefits they expect.
Hearing aids will have to increase the loudness to force sound through the blocked middle ear and this may cause the sound to become distorted and unclear. The conductive hearing loss can also be connected to infections in the ear which may be further aggravated by using a hearing aid, making it difficult and uncomfortable to use.
If you or your child has a conductive loss you may want to learn more about Baha® bone conduction implants. The Baha System converts sound to vibrations that are sent to the inner ear through the bone, bypassing any blockage in the outer or middle ear. This is a natural way of hearing and much of the sound you hear every day, like your own voice, is heard partly via the same phenomenon.