Deafness means complete hearing loss. Partial loss of hearing is often called hearing loss rather than deafness. Deafness can occur in one or both ears.

There are three primary types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive—hearing loss caused by the inability of the sound to reach the inner ear
  • Sensorineural—hearing loss caused by disorders of the inner ear or auditory nerve. This type of loss is usually permanent.
  • Mixed—hearing losses that are a combination of both conductive and sensorineural loss

The Ear
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The conditions that can cause or be associated with hearing loss include the following:

  • Ear infections
  • Middle ear fluid
  • Earwax
  • Hole in the ear drum
  • Trauma, including birth trauma
  • Nose or throat problems, such as:
    • Nasal allergies
    • Sinus problems
    • Blockage of the tubes leading from the ears to the throat
  • Family history
  • Noise
  • Ear disorders, such as:
  • Infections, such as:
  • Bacterial infections, such as:
  • Tumors involving the:
    • Ear
    • Brain
  • Neurological disorders, such as:
  • Hypothyroidism —underactive thyroid
  • Ototoxic drugs that damage the ear, such as:
    • Aspirin—usually reverses when aspirin is stopped
    • Quinine—usually reverses when quinine is stopped
    • Certain antibiotics—usually is not reversible when stopped