Conductive hearing loss is a very common reason for patients to visit The Hearing Centre in Leicester. It occurs when an obstruction or damage to the middle or outer ear drum prevents sound from passing through the ear drum to the tiny and delicate bones in the inner ear.
Here, our audiologist Claire Marshall explains how you can watch out for the signs of conductive hearing loss, and what to do if you are suffering from this very common (but thankfully often treatable), ear problem.
How is my hearing affected by conductive hearing loss?
When suffering from conductive hearing loss, it’s common to experience these changes in your hearing:
- Noise sounds quieter but not less clear than before.
- Your own voice seems to sound different when you are talking.
- You can hear better out of one ear than the other
These changes to your hearing come about because of the obstruction in your ear and will vary in intensity and sensation according to what is causing the problem. It’s also possible to experience non-hearing related symptoms of conductive hearing loss such as a discharge from the ear. Often the fact that hearing only seems to be affected in one ear is a sign that you are suffering from conductive hearing loss as opposed to another kind of hearing loss.
Why have I developed conductive hearing loss?
Conductive hearing loss happens as a result of another ear problem. Common causes are:
- A build-up of earwax in the ears that causes sound to be muffled
- A perforated eardrum
- Glue ear (a build-up of fluid in the inner ear)
- An ear infection in the middle ear.
Less frequently, conductive hearing loss happens as a result of an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear called otosclerosis. This is more likely to be a cause of conductive hearing loss amongst young adults.
How is conductive hearing loss treated?
Again, the treatment will depend on the cause of the problem. Mild ear infections and cases of glue ear often go away on their own with no need for any medical intervention. If your conductive hearing loss is being caused by a build-up of earwax, we can use our state of the art microsuction equipment to safely and efficiently remove the problematic earwax, usually in under half an hour.
What happens if my ear problem is more complicated?
Sometimes, when investigating conductive hearing loss, we will also identify another underlying hearing problem such as sensorineural hearing loss, where hearing loss occurs in the inner ear or when there is nerve damage to the hearing nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss is by far the most common cause of hearing loss, accounting for around 90 per cent of cases. However, because it often occurs gradually over time due to prolonged exposure to noise or the natural process of getting older, sometimes people ignore or fail to notice the full extent of their symptoms until a problem such as conductive hearing loss adds to their hearing issues and prompts them to seek medical help.
The right treatment for your hearing problem
There is no need to get a referral from your GP to have a consultation at The Hearing Centre. The good news is that most cases of conductive hearing loss are temporary and straightforward to treat. However, in cases where our investigations uncover a more serious or long-term hearing issue, we can use our specialist testing equipment to make an accurate diagnosis and plan to restore your hearing to the best possible levels, with the use of the latest technology in hearing aids if necessary.
Preventing conductive hearing loss
Not all cases of conductive hearing loss can be prevented, but taking the following steps can help minimise your chances of suffering from this inconvenient and sometimes painful ear problem:
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to minimise your susceptibility to ear infections.
- Avoiding exposure to loud, sudden noises which can be a cause of a perforated eardrum.
- Taking care to dry your ears gently after swimming or exposure to water to avoid swimmer’s ear.
- Avoiding putting foreign objects like cotton buds in your ears, as attempting to clean your ears this way is likely to make earwax build-up worse and can also cause perforated eardrums.
Specialist treatment for hearing problems
If you feel like you are suffering from conductive hearing loss or any other hearing-related problem, please contact us on 0116 254 3909 or complete our booking form to arrange a consultation in Leicester with one of our audiologists.