Hearing Doctors of Iowa

Hearing Loss Signs and Symptoms

(515)964-1134

We Understand

Hearing loss disconnects you from the people and things you love. Even a mild hearing impairment can result in asking people to repeat themselves, straining to hear on the phone or in background noise. Over time, you may find yourself missing out on the things you love.

Even relatively mild hearing loss can seriously disrupt how we interact and connect with others. Healthy hearing is a complex system. Ear problems in general can prevent crucial pieces of sound information from reaching the brain, causing frequent misunderstandings.

  • Do you feel like you can hear, but you can’t understand?
  • Are other people complaining that the TV or radio is turned up too loud?
  • Does it seem like people are mumbling?
  • Does it seem to be harder to hear in background noise or groups?
Pensive man, looking away.

Types of hearing loss

Commonly, an ear problem in the outer or middle ear is referred to as a conductive hearing loss, while inner-ear problems or brain-processing difficulties are referred to as sensorineural hearing loss. These are two distinct types of hearing loss with differing treatment methods.

Common Types of Hearing Loss


Sensorineural Hearing Loss

The most common type of hearing loss is the result of damage to the delicate hair cells in the inner-ear organ of hearing (the cochlea) that organize and transmit sound to the brain. When these hair cells, or the nerves they connect to, are damaged; the result is difficulty understanding. Nearly 95% of adult cases of hearing loss are sensorineural in nature. The only treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is amplification through a hearing aid or in rarer cases, a cochlear implant.

Conductive Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss occurs as the result of an infection or blockage in the outer or middle ear. Otitis media (middle-ear infections) can sometimes cause difficulty hearing due to a fluid buildup. Otitis externa (swimmer’s ear) or a buildup of earwax may create a blockage outside the eardrum. This type of hearing loss is typically reversible once the infection or blockage clears, or once necessary surgery is performed. A referral to an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist is recommended in the event of a diagnosis of conductive hearing loss. Approximately 5% of adults have a conductive type of hearing loss.

Mixed Hearing Loss

A mixed hearing loss typically refers to a combination of a conductive hearing loss and a sensorineural hearing loss. A condition effecting the ossicles of the middle ear (tiny bones that conduct sound) is a common example of a mixed hearing loss. Hearing may improve after the conductive portion of the hearing loss is resolved through treatment or surgery; however, the sensorineural component of the hearing loss is permanent.

Sudden Hearing Loss

A sudden loss in hearing, either entirely or partially, within a 24-hour period is a medical emergency. While sudden hearing loss is rare, it’s possible that hearing may never return without immediate medical attention. Treatment is administered by a physician and may include steroids to support the recovery of hearing. Not sure where to go? Call our office and we can help.


What caused my hearing loss?

There can be one cause or many. Hearing loss is a common condition, for most people, it’s also very treatable. Let’s help you reconnect to life with better hearing.

Hearing Doctors of Iowa