What is hearing loss?

Hearing loss, or a hearing impairment, occurs when a person’s ear has decreased sensitivity to normally produced sounds. The level of hearing loss for a given person is measured generally by the increase in volume needed for a person to detect the sound.

There are three types of hearing loss, and each of those types can occur in either both ears (bilateral) or a single ear (unilateral)

  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound isn’t reaching the inner ear adequately
  • This can be the result of any number of causes for obstruction, such as scar tissue or dysfunction of the middle ear


  • Sensorineural hearing loss occurs from damage to the inner ear, or cochlea, and therefore in what is communicated to the brain
  • This can be caused by general aging (and the impact to the cells of the cochlea), noise exposure, head trauma and more


  • Mixed hearing loss occurs when there is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss


Hearing loss is determined by measuring the volume level at which a sound must be amplified (above the normal threshold) before a person identifies it. The ability (or inability) to detect a sound can also be related to the frequency of the sound. As such, the varying levels of volume are tested against different frequencies.

Learn more about testing services at Sound Advice