Conductive Hearing Loss – Symptoms Causes and Treatment

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A Conductive Hearing loss is the second most common Hearing Loss. Majority of the people suffer from Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Conductive deafness affects people of all age groups. It is medically treated in the majority of the cases. The cure or treatment depends on our ability to recognise the symptoms and seek immediate medical help. If you think you have a hearing loss, you should should know about the symptoms causes and treatments of Conductive Hearing Loss.

Conductive Hearing Loss Symptoms causes and treatment

What are the Different Type of Hearing Loss?

There are 3 main types of Hearing Loss.

  1.   Sensorineural Hearing Loss.

  2.   Conductive Hearing Loss

  3.   Mixed Hearing Loss

What is Conductive Hearing Loss?

The Ear structure consists of 3 parts. The Outer, Middle and the Inner Ear.

Ear Structure
Ear Structure

Conductive deaness occurs if the Outer or the Middle Ear do not conduct Sound waves to the Inner Ear. The problem can be in the Outer Ear and/or in the Middle Ear.

What are the Symptoms of Conductive Hearing Loss?

One should be aware of the symptoms or signs of Conductive Hearing Loss.

  • Earache or Pain in the Ear

The pain in one ear or both is a sign that all is not well with our ears. The pain could be due to infection, ear wax accumulation or an injury.

  • Blocked Ears or Pressure

We get the feeling of ear blockage or pressure in the ears. This is somewhat like the pressure some people feel while landing or taking off in an Airplane.

  • Loss of Hearing

We struggle to hear on the phone or miss out on the conversation while in a group. This indicates reduced Hearing ability.

  • Bad Odour from the Ears

In case there is an infection or build-up of Pus, the Ear will give out a bad odour or smell.

  • Unfamiliar Sound

We feel that our own speech sounds very different. This can happen in case of others Speech as well.

It is to be noted that the above Symptoms of Conductive deafness could be in one Ear or Both.

What are the Causes of Conductive Deafness?

The common causes of Conductive deafness are as under:

  1.  Ear wax Accumulation

Not cleaning our Ears regularly causes Earwax to collect in the Ear Canal. This causes a physical blockage. The Earwax does not allow Speech and sound signals to reach the Eardrum or the Tympanic Membrane.

  1. Obstruction by a Foreign Body

Small items like beads, in the case of Children or cotton swabs stuck in the ear, can cause Conductive deafness.

  1. Infection Due to Water

Otitis Externa. Is the medical term also commonly called Swimmers Ear. Constant dampness or wet ears cause infection. We should also dry our Ears after a shower.

  1. Malformation of Outer Ear

This normally happens at birth. It is either malformation of the Pinna or the Ear Canal which is part of the External Ear.

  1. Abnormal Bone Growth

 Abnormal growth of the bones along the Ear Canal reduce the size of the Ear Canal. Sound can still travel through the outer ear. But the chances of the Ear getting blocked with a small amount of ear wax are high.

  1. Middle Ear Infection

Infection in the Middle Ear causes a build-up of fluids. Seek immediate medical attention before the infection becomes serious. This is very common in case of Children. Read the tips to detect Ear Infection in Children.

  1. Perforation in the Eardrum

The Tympanic Membrane or Ear Drum vibrates as per the Sound waves received by the Ear. A perforated Ear drum will not vibrate. Hence the Sound waves will not pass on to the Inner Ear. The Inner Ear sends the sound waves to our Brain through the Auditory Nerve.

  1.   Otosclerosis or Hardening of the Bone

Otosclerosis is the hardening of one of the 3 bones in the Middle Ear. These bones amplify and transfer the sound vibrations to the Inner Ear. Hardening of this bone stops the vibrations. This interrupts the process of transferring sound to the Inner Ear.

  1. Accident or Injury

Speech signals do not reach the Inner Ear if there is a physical damage to the outer or Inner Ear.

Can Conductive Hearing Loss be Treated?

In a majority of the cases, Conductive Hearing Loss is reversible or can be corrected. People suspecting hearing loss should undergo a hearing test or Audiometry.

  • Ear wax is nature’s process of restricting dirt from going into our Ears. Ear wax also keeps the Ear Canal lubricated. Some people produce more Ear wax than others. Ear wax should be regularly cleaned to avoid blockage. Use proper methods to clean Ears and avoid using Ear tips or cotton Earbuds.
  • In case Children insert a foreign object in the ears, rush them to the Doctor immediately. The Hearing is normal after removal of the object.
  • Keep your ears dry. Do not let water remain in your ears after a swim or a shower. Take special precautions to avoid fungal Infection.

Surgery can correct the malformation of the External Ear to some extent. Reconstruction surgery to correct abnormalities like collapsed Ear Canal and perforated Ear drum is possible. But the operation depends on the complexity and severity which may differ from case to case.

2 Stage Ear Reconstruction Surgery
2 Stage Ear Reconstruction Surgery
  • Surgery in case of physical injury due to accidents is more delicate and serious in nature. It solely depends on the extent of the damage or injury.
  • Infections of the Outer Ear are generally treated with anti-fungal or anti-bacterial eardrops.  Inner Ear infections need Antibiotic medicines. This treatment is generally done at home under the guidance of the Doctor. Delay in seeking medical help will spread the infection and may need hospitalisation.
  • In some cases, people suffering from Conductive Hearing Loss are not advised surgery or do not prefer surgery. These people can use Hearing Aids.
  • Hearing Aids are suitable for people suffering from Conductive Hearing Loss. The prescription of Digital Hearing Aids is as per the Hearing loss of the patient.

2 types of Bone Conduction Hearing Devices are available. One type connects to a Body worn Hearing Aid.  The second type is an Implant and requires a minor surgery.

Bone Conduction Implant
Bone Conduction Implant

The Bone Conduction Implant picks up the external sound and processes them. The Implant converts the sound signals to vibrations. These vibrations reach the Inner Ear through the bones.

Conductive Hearing Loss is treatable and reversible. One should be aware of the Symptoms and seek timely medical help.

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