Hearing loss due to problems in outer or middle ear is termed as Conductive hearing loss, in which the sound waves face obstacles while passing through these sections. Conductive hearing loss makes all sounds seem faint or softened, and it is worse in low frequencies. Conductive hearing loss developing during childhood is usually due to otitis media with effusion and may present with speech and language delay or difficulty hearing. Later onset of conductive hearing loss may have an obvious cause such as an ear infection, trauma or upper respiratory tract infection or may have an insidious onset related to chronic middle ear disease, otosclerosis or a tumour of the naso-pharynx. Earwax is a very common cause of a conductive hearing loss which may occur suddenly when water gets behind the wax and this blocks the ear canal.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs due to disorders or malfunctions in the inner ear, Cochlea and/or auditory nerve so it is unable to accurately send the electrical information to the brain. Hearing loss due to disorders in cochlear area of inner ear is of sensory type and if concerning nerve disorders, then it is known as neural. Together it is known as sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural Hearing Loss is almost always permanent.
A combination of the Conductive and the Sensorineural hearing loss types is termed as mixed hearing loss. The sensorineural component is permanent, while the conductive component can either be permanent or temporary.