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Understanding Conductive Hearing Loss

There is no doubt that the ears are a sensitive yet highly functional part of our bodies. Being able to hear properly enables us to make sense of the world around us, for example, and hear when someone calls our name. The position of the ears on the body is important for their proper function but can leave them exposed to danger. One condition to look out for is conductive hearing loss – but what is it, what are the symptoms and how can you treat it?

What is conductive hearing loss?

In broad terms, hearing loss can be split into two fields – sensorineural and conductive. Conductive hearing loss happens when there are issues with the delivery of sound energy to your cochlea. The cochlea is the part of your inner ear that allows you to hear sounds and thus any interference with sound waves reaching it properly can impact your hearing. If the natural movement of sounds through your external/middle ear is compromised, the full sound does not reach the inner ear and you will feel like you are not hearing things properly.

What causes conductive hearing loss?

If you are experiencing issues with hearing loss, it may well be down to this condition. Common causes of conductive hearing loss include:

– excess earwax blocking the ear canal
– issues with small bones in your ear / bony lesions in the ear
– Otitis Externa (Swimmers Ear) infection in the ear canal from water exposure/use of cotton swabs
– foreign body inserted into the ear by accident (common in children)
– defects of the external ear canal (Aural Artesia)

This condition can also be caused by a range of problems in the middle ear. If the middle ear space for example becomes filled with fluid or inflamed, then hearing loss can occur. In some cases, the collapse of the eardrum or a hole in the eardrum can cause conductive hearing loss and requires urgent treatment. Cholesteatoma is another middle ear issue that can lead to CHL and sees skin cells present in this part of the ear that are not usually there. Otosclerosis is an inherited disease that sees stirrup bones in the middle ear fuse with bones next to them. It is also another possible cause of conductive hearing loss.

The good news is that most cases of conductive hearing loss can be improved upon with the right treatment plan. It is therefore key to see a qualified medical professional (known as an audiologist for hearing issues) to treat it for you.

Is conductive hearing loss a common condition?

Due to the number of possible causes of it, this is a fairly common condition that affects people’s hearing. The key thing is to seek urgent medical help from a qualified professional if you think you might be suffering from it.

What symptoms does conductive hearing loss have?

Although we have looked at the causes of conductive hearing loss above, it is often also helpful for people to know the most common symptoms to be on the lookout for. This can help you figure out if you may be experiencing this condition and get the help you need from a qualified audiologist quickly.

While the exact symptoms may vary depending on the cause/severity, those shown below are often present:

– fuzzy/muffled hearing
– steady or sudden hearing loss
– blocked or ‘full’ sensation in the ear
– draining of fluid from the ear
– feeling dizzy
– painful or tender ear

If you experience any of these symptoms for more than a few days, it might be a sign you have conductive hearing loss and that you need to get checked out properly for it by a medical professional.

What treatments are available for conductive hearing loss?

If you are suffering with hearing loss, you should book in to see a qualified audiologist or ENT specialist right away. This will enable them to delve further into your symptoms and come up with a specific diagnosis. It will also mean they can discuss with you the best treatments you could follow.

Initially, your consultation will include talking about your symptoms and the audiologist performing a basic examination. This will normally include a hearing test to pin down how serious your hearing loss is and confirm if it is conductive hearing loss. In some cases, you may also have to undergo a CT or MRI scan to image your ears and enable a better diagnosis of the issue.

For conductive hearing loss, common non-surgical treatments are:

– observe condition with follow up visits to audiologist/repeat hearing tests
– recommendation to wear a hearing aid
– preferential seating in class for school/college/university students

There are however some causes of conductive hearing loss which could need surgery to fix. These include:

– bony lesions
– aural atresia
– cholesteatoma
– chronic otitis media
– enhanced retraction of the tympanic membrane
– hole in the eardrum
– middle ear bones damaged
– otosclerosis
– surgery needed to implant a hearing device

If the cause of your conductive hearing loss does need surgery to fix properly, your audiologist/ENT specialist will talk you through why this is required and give you all the information you need to make a decision.

Get in touch with VIP Hearing Solutions today

At VIP Hearing Solutions, we understand that you need fast and professional help with issues such as conductive hearing loss. If you feel like you might be suffering from this condition or are having any kind of hearing loss problems, contact us today on 020 8866 6700 to book your consultation.