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Conductive hearing loss is a form of hearing loss due to abnormalities in mobile portions of the ear. These are the movable parts (including the eardrum) that transmit sound from the outside to the inner ear where our nervous system takes over and transmits signals to the brain. Conductive hearing loss occurs when these movable parts are damaged or when their mobility is impaired. Conductive hearing loss is the most common cause of hearing impairment- especially in children. Luckily there are hearing devices that can help, as well as state of the art hearing loss treatments that show serious promise.
The type of hearing loss that occurs depends on what part of the ear is not working properly. For example, if there is something not working in the ear canal, eardrum, middle ear bones or middle ear space (e.g. fluid), it may result in a conductive hearing loss (sometimes called "mechanical hearing loss"). Consequently, sound waves cannot be conducted to the inner ear.
If, on the other hand, something is not working in the cochlea, auditory nerve or brain, it more commonly results in a sensorineural hearing loss (also called "nerve hearing loss").
Conductive hearing loss is caused by a blockage that prevents the conduction of sound from the outer to inner ear. This blockage can be due to one of the following reasons:
Because conductive hearing loss is not caused by nerve damage, as is the case with sensorineural loss, it usually is treatable by removing the blockage and almost all conductive hearing loss is temporary or transitory and can be cured with hearing returning to normal levels. Hearing aids are generally not needed. (insert link over hearing aids to "hearing aid reviews" page)
Therefore, treatment essentially depends upon removal of the cause. Foreign objects (i.e., pop beads, crayons, insects, etc.) must be removed. Ear fluid and ear infections generally require medical examination and treatment, although some fluid conditions are transitory and self healing. Ear wax should be removed only by someone with proper experience and safe instruments. Ear infections, such as otitis media can be treated with oral antibiotics or eardrops. In some cases, fluid behind the eardrum can be drained by inserting pressure-equalizing tympanotomy tubes through the eardrum, a procedure commonly known as "tubes in the ears." Ruptured eardrums also can be treated with antibiotics or surgery if necessary.