Mixed hearing loss is hearing loss caused by conditions that affect both the inner ear and the outer ear or middle ear.
The outer ear funnels sound waves to the eardrum, and the middle ear converts the waves to vibrations. The inner ear converts the vibrations into nerve impulses that travel to the brain along the auditory nerve.
Hearing loss caused by a condition that affects the outer ear or middle ear is called conductive hearing loss. Hearing loss caused by a condition affecting the inner ear or the auditory nerve is called neural hearing loss. When someone has both conductive and neural hearing loss, the condition is called mixed hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss can be caused by impacted earwax, ear infections, foreign objects in the ear canal, ruptured eardrums, injuries, or defects in the ear that are present at birth. Neural hearing loss is often caused by disorders that are present at birth, but also can be caused by infections, injuries, tumors, certain drugs, and too much exposure to loud noises.
Treatment for mixed hearing loss typically focuses on treating the conductive hearing loss, which usually responds better to treatment.
Conductive hearing loss is usually mild, temporary, and treatable with medicine or surgery. Neural hearing loss can be permanent, but some people eventually regain much of their hearing. For those who don't, hearing aids, treatment, speech and language therapy, and educational programs can help them lead perfectly normal and productive lives.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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