Hearing Loss


Hearing loss can be caused by changes to the ear, nerves, or brain and sometimes, all three.  

Age-Related Changes in the Ear

As a person ages, the outer part of their ear canal thins and earwax gets drier and stickier. This increases the risk of wax build up in the ear canal. 

With aging, a person’s inner ear can lose some of the cells that pick up sound. And, nerves that carry those sounds to the brain lose some of their ability to do so.

Main Types of Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss occurs when sound cannot enter the ear. Some causes are:

  • Build up of ear wax, which a healthcare provider can diagnose and remove  
  • Infections
  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Arthritis that affects the bones of the ear
  • A hole in the eardrum

Sensorineural Hearing Loss 

This type of hearing loss happens because of changes to the cells in the inner ear or related nerves. This is the most common type of hearing loss in older adults. Age is the main risk for this type of hearing loss. Other risks include:

  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Smoking and some drugs or chemicals

Mixed Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.


Last Updated May 2023

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