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Types of Hearing Loss in Children

What are the different types of hearing loss?

There are 3 main types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive, and mixed (both sensorineural and conductive). These types of hearing loss can be present at birth (congenital). Or they can occur after birth (acquired).

Sensorineural

This is a loss of function in the inner ear or with the connection to the brain. Causes of this type of hearing loss include:

Conditions that are present at birth (congenital) such as:

  • The mother has an infection such as toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes, or syphilis

  • The mother has diabetes

  • Complications linked to Rh factor in the blood

  • Genetic factors and syndromes the child has at birth

  • A condition that is passed down in the family (hereditary)

Conditions that occur after birth (acquired) such as:

  • Loud noise exposure

  • Injury

  • Infections

  • Damage from certain medicines that can be harmful to the ears

  • Low birth weight or prematurity

Conductive hearing loss

This is a problem in the outer or middle ear where sound waves are not sent to the inner ear correctly. It is the most common type of hearing loss in children. It often develops after birth. Factors that may cause this type of hearing loss are:

Congenital conditions such as:

  • Problems with the outer ear

  • Problems with the eardrum

  • Problems with the outside ear canal

  • Problems with the 3 tiny bones that send sound waves to the middle ear (ossicles)

Acquired conditions such as:

  • Excessive wax

  • Something gets stuck in the ear canal, such as beads or popcorn kernels

  • Middle ear tumors

  • Problems with the eustachian tube

  • Ear infections

  • Ongoing (chronic) ear infections with fluid in the middle ear

  • Ruptured eardrum (perforated eardrum)

Mixed hearing loss

This is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. There is damage to the outer, middle, or inner ear, or the auditory nerve.

Online Medical Reviewer: Ashutosh Kacker MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2019
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