What’s the Difference Between Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss?

Hearing is a precious sense that allows us to connect with the world around us. It’s a sense that many take for granted until they experience difficulties.

One common issue that affects hearing is the difference between sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Understanding these two types of hearing loss can be crucial in seeking the right treatment and support.

These names are a bit misleading as they can often be a combination of the two types. You can also have both of these types of hearing loss at the same time.

Would you like to learn more about these two types of hearing loss? If so, keep reading below to get the inside scoop.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

A sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear, auditory nerve, or related brain structures. It is a type of permanent hearing loss found in all age groups. People experience problems in hearing because of the damage to the tiny hairs inside the cochlea, which vibrate and convert sound into electrical signals.

The damage interferes with the conduction of sound to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss is often seen with genetic disorders, viruses, aging, drug toxicity, head trauma, and temporal bone fractures. Symptoms of this hearing loss can range from total or partial deafness to difficulty hearing in noisy places.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is when sound is blocked from reaching the inner ear. It is commonly caused by a build-up of fluid or wax in the ear canal, an obstruction due to a foreign object, or the eardrum that is not vibrating properly.

Conductive hearing loss can be mild to severe and can affect one or both ears. Signs of this sudden hearing loss include muffled or dull sounds and difficulty hearing faint or soft sounds. It can also be difficult to understand others when background noise is present, and difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds.

Key Differences 

Now that we have a basic understanding of both types, let’s highlight the key differences between sensorineural and conductive hearing loss:

1. Location of the Problem

Sensorineural hearing loss originates in the inner ear or auditory nerve, whereas conductive hearing loss is usually linked to issues in the outer or middle ear.

2. Reversibility

Sensorineural hearing loss is typically permanent, while conductive hearing loss can often be treated and reversed.

3. Sound Quality

Sensorineural hearing loss affects the overall quality of sound perception, making it difficult to hear both high and low-pitched sounds. Conductive hearing loss often leads to a reduction in volume but does not necessarily alter sound quality.

4. Causes

Sensorineural hearing loss can result from aging, noise exposure, or genetics, while physical obstructions or infections often cause conductive hearing loss.


For individuals with sensorineural or severe hearing loss, traditional hearing aids may not provide the desired level of improvement. This is where paging solutions for the hearing impaired come into play. These devices offer alternative methods of communication, ensuring that those with hearing loss can stay connected with the world around them.

Understanding the Difference Between Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss

Overall, the difference between sensorineural and conductive hearing loss is now clear. While both have similar symptoms, the difference lies in the cause of the hearing loss. Therefore, it’s important to understand these two types of hearing loss and the implications they have.

If you are experiencing signs of hearing loss, be sure to book an appointment with an audiologist to explore your options. Take control of your hearing health today.

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