5 Types and Causes of Hearing Disorders: Symptoms Explored

Explore five types of hearing loss disorders to avoid complications that may interfere with your daily life.

5 Types and Causes of Hearing Disorders: Symptoms Explored

Hearing is a crucial sense that often goes unnoticed in its significance. Yet, issues related to hearing can be severe, potentially leading to permanent ear damage. Children, in particular, are susceptible to these disorders due to increased vulnerability to infections, physical harm, and pitch response issues. Understanding these hearing disorders is essential, as even minor impairments can result in challenges with speech and language. We’ll delve into five common types of hearing problems experienced by many individuals.

What constitutes a hearing disorder

We interviewed Dr. Ishan Gulati, an ENT Specialist at Max Super Speciality Hospital in Bangalore, to discuss various types of hearing disorders. Hearing disorders manifest as difficulties in hearing specific pitches or an overall inability to perceive sound. These conditions arise when sound fails to reach the nerves responsible for transmitting signals to the brain.

What constitutes a hearing disorder

He explained that hearing disorders are contingent upon the area of dysfunction, leading to various hearing issues. Primarily, they fall into three main types, though they can further be subdivided into five categories. The severity of hearing loss is also influenced by factors such as specific pitch and the condition of the eardrum. Additionally, children with hearing disorders may commonly experience speech abnormalities and language difficulties.

Varieties of Hearing Disorders

1. Conductive Hearing Impairment

Conductive Hearing Loss refers to a condition affecting the outer or middle ear, hindering the transmission of sound into the inner ear. Typically, it occurs due to temporary damage or blockage in these ear sections, impeding sound from reaching the eardrums. Individuals with this disorder may struggle to perceive soft sounds and may require ear cleaning or consultation with an ear specialist.

Conductive hearing loss can stem from various factors, including the presence of earwax buildup obstructing the ear canal. In some cases, congenital irregularities in the middle ear bones can also lead to this type of hearing impairment. While some instances may resolve with age, others may necessitate surgical intervention to correct the bone irregularity.


  • Earwax impaction
  • Swimmer’s ear
  • Foreign objects lodged in the ear
  • Thickening of the tympanic membrane
  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty in telephone conversations
  • Foul odor emanating from the ear canal

2. Sensorineural Hearing Impairment

Sensorineural Hearing Loss results from damage to the inner ear or the hair cells within it. Individuals with this condition typically struggle to hear softer sounds while still being able to perceive louder ones. Sensorineural hearing loss can either be congenital, present from birth, or acquired gradually over time. Fortunately, hearing aids often provide an effective solution for managing this condition, with surgery or other treatments usually not being necessary.

 Sensorineural Hearing Impairment


  • Difficulty following conversations
  • Challenges hearing in noisy environments
  • Struggle to perceive soft-pitched sounds
  • Perception of noises as excessively loud or soft
  • Speech of others may seem unclear or mumbled
  • Occasional feelings of dizziness or imbalance

Sensorineural hearing loss primarily affects older individuals, with symptoms typically emerging after the age of 50. Prolonged exposure to loud noises is a common contributing factor, often compounded by other health conditions. Infections, heart disease, diabetes, and similar health issues can also potentially lead to sensorineural hearing loss.

3. Combination Hearing Impairment

Mixed hearing loss involves a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing impairments, potentially stemming from various causes and affecting the ears adversely. While it predominantly occurs in the middle or inner ear, it can also result from physical trauma, underlying health conditions, or blockages in the ear canal. Individuals with mixed hearing loss may experience occasional feelings of dizziness or imbalance.

Mixed hearing loss may be the result of trauma to the ear canal or can develop gradually with age, potentially becoming a temporary issue if promptly addressed. Unlike some other types of hearing loss, there isn’t a singular dedicated cause for this condition, making it possible for anyone to experience it at any point following an ear-related impact.

Symptoms of mixed hearing loss can overlap with those of either conductive or sensorineural hearing loss. Common indicators may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to either soft or loud sounds
  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty comprehending speech or language
 Combination Hearing Impairment

4. Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD)

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder is a less common type of hearing disorder that affects the auditory nerve. With this disorder, signals struggle to reach the brain, resulting in defective speech or language. Individuals with ANSD perceive distorted sounds, making it challenging to comprehend speech. Early diagnosis in childhood typically offers better treatment prospects. However, if ANSD progresses, complete treatment may become less likely without surgical intervention.

5. Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)

Central Auditory Processing Disorder primarily affects children with normal hearing but an inability to process auditory information effectively. As a result, they require external assistance to comprehend speech. Additionally, children with CAPD may experience difficulty recalling previously heard information and struggle to focus in environments with background noise. This disorder disrupts a child’s development and complicates their ability to navigate various situations in life.