Types and causes of hearing loss

Knowing more about the types and causes of hearing loss will help you feel confident to make the right choice for you or your loved one.

What you'll find on this page

  • The types and causes of hearing loss.
  • Understand your degree of hearing loss.
  • Potential treatment options.

Every story about hearing loss is different. Your hearing loss may affect one ear or both, and it may stem from a problem in the inner, middle or outer ear, or from a combination of places.

Knowing what type it is and the cause can be crucial to finding the right solution.


Degrees of hearing loss

Understanding your degree of hearing loss is important to identifying the right treatment.

For example, hearing aids may be right for someone with mild to moderate hearing loss, while hearing implants may be better for someone with moderate to profound hearing loss.

Look at the audiogram below. You’ll see where sounds fall in loudness and frequency scales to help you understand what you may not be able to hear.


Mild hearing loss
You may hear speech, but soft sounds are hard to hear, such as whispers or the consonants on the end of words like 'shoes' or 'fish'.

Moderate hearing loss
You may hear another person speaking at a normal level, but have difficulty understanding what he or she is saying. You might hear the vowels within a sentence, but not hear the consonants. This makes comprehending a sentence almost impossible.

Severe hearing loss
You may hear little to no speech of a person talking at a normal level and only some loud sounds. Very loud sounds, such as a car horn, wouldn't be startling in the same way it would to a person with normal hearing.

Profound hearing loss
You don't hear any speech — only very loud sounds — and you feel the vibrations of only the loudest of sounds.

Understanding the audiogram

Your audiologist will map your type and degree of hearing loss on a chart called an audiogram.



Find an audiologist / ENT surgeon near you

There are no clinics close to you.

You can search for clinics in a different location, or contact Cochlear to understand what the next steps for you would be.


Please seek advice from your health professional about treatments for hearing loss. Outcomes may vary, and your health professional will advise you about the factors which could affect your outcome. Always read the instructions for use. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative for product information.

Views expressed are those of the individual. Consult your health professional to determine if you are a candidate for Cochlear technology.

For a full list of Cochlear’s trademarks, please visit our Terms of Use page.