Hearing loss, also known as hearing impairment, is a partial or total inability to hear. Hearing loss may occur in one or both ears.
In children, hearing problems can affect the ability to learn spoken language and, in adults, it can create difficulties with social interaction and at work. It can be temporary or permanent.
There are two major types of hearing loss:
- Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem conducting sound waves anywhere along the route through the external ear canal, ear drum (tympanic membrane), or middle ear (ossicles). This type of hearing loss may occur in conjunction with sensorineural hearing loss (mixed hearing loss) or alone.
- Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is another form of hearing loss, in which the root cause lies in the inner ear (cochlea) or the vestibulocochlear nerve.