The medical community uses the term “mixed hearing loss” to describe any condition when there is damage to both the outer/middle ear as well as to the inner ear. In these cases, there is both sensorineural as well as conductive hearing loss. The causes of mixed hearing loss are as varied as the causes of both conductive and sensorineural loss.
Genetic history, illness, trauma, aging, and overexposure to loud noise can all contribute to mixed hearing loss. Treatment of hearing loss depends upon the degree and type of loss. Hearing aids and over the counter hearing aids are particularly useful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people with sensorineural hearing loss. By contrast, conductive hearing loss, often caused by trauma or illness, can sometimes be treated with medicine or surgery. For example, conductive hearing loss include congenital absence of ear canal or failure of the ear canal to be open at birth, congenital absence, malformation, or dysfunction of the middle ear structures, all of which may possibly be surgically corrected. If these are not amenable to successful surgical correction, then the hearing may be improved with amplification with a bone conduction hearing aid or a surgically implanted, osseointegrated device, or a conventional hearing aid, depending on the status of the hearing nerve.
In most cases of mixed hearing loss, experts recommend treating the conductive loss first, then determining what further treatments are needed. While hearing loss cannot be reversed, the combination of surgical techniques and high-quality hearing aids can deliver improved hearing and, by extension, a greater quality of life.