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Hearing loss can range from mild to profound, and it can affect any part of the ear. Being able to identify types of hearing loss leads to appropriate treatment, as well as improved symptoms and hearing ability.

Where in the Ear Can Hearing Loss Happen?

Hearing loss can occur in the outer, middle, or inner part of the ear. It can also affect the auditory nerve and auditory system.

Outer Ear

The outer ear is the part of the ear seen on the outside of the head. It includes the ear canal and eardrum, which separates the outer ear from the middle ear.

Middle Ear

The middle ear includes the eardrum, as well as the ossicles. Ossicles are the three small bones that transfer the movement of the eardrum to the inner ear.

Inner Ear

The cochlea, which is a hollow, spiral-shaped organ that helps the brain interpret sound, is part of the inner ear. The inner ear also includes nerves that go to the brain and semicircular canals that help with balance.

Auditory Nerve

The auditory nerve sends signals from the ear to the brain.

Auditory System

The auditory system helps the brain hear, interpret, and understand sounds within the environment.

Types of Hearing Loss

The type of hearing loss a person has largely depends on the part of the auditory system that is damaged. Hearing loss falls into one of four categories: conductive, sensorineural, mixed, and auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD).

Conductive Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss occurs when sounds cannot get through the outer or middle ear. Loud sounds may be muffled, while soft sounds may not be heard at all. Conductive hearing loss can often be effectively treated with hearing aids.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. It usually occurs after the inner ear has been damaged, such as from an illness, a blow to the head, or exposure to extremely loud noise.

Mixed Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss occurs when both the outer and inner ear has been damaged. Mixed hearing loss includes both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD)

ANSD is a hearing disorder in which the inner ear can detect sound normally but has a problem with sending sound to the brain. This type of hearing loss may be caused by genetics or damage to the inner hair cells.

Degree of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be clinically labeled as one of four degrees: mild, moderate, severe, or profound.


Soft sounds may be difficult to hear, with mild hearing loss, though many other speech sounds may still be heard.


With moderate hearing loss, speech is usually difficult to hear and understand even when the person is talking at a normal decibel level.


Severe hearing loss is a degree of hearing loss in which extremely loud sounds can be heard, but speech is mostly inaudible.


With profound hearing loss, only extremely loud sounds can be heard, and no speech at all.

Head trauma, earwax buildup, illnesses, chronic diseases, and aging are common causes of many types of hearing loss. An audiologist can evaluate and diagnose hearing loss and recommend the best treatment based on its type. Hearing aids, cochlear implants, and earwax removal are some of the many effective treatments for hearing loss.The audiologists at Sonora Hearing Care, LLC are devoted to working with you to protect your hearing and reduce your risk for hearing loss. If you are experiencing hearing loss of any type or degree, contact us today at (520) 881-8740 to request an appointment.