Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

Common Causes of Hearing Loss

Common Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a very common condition (third most common behind arthritis and heart disease), with 16% of U.S. adults reporting hearing trouble. Hearing loss also affects children, with 3 in 1,000 children born with some hearing loss in one or both ears, and 15% of kids and teens ages 6-19 dealing with mild to permanent damage to their hearing. Permanent hearing damage can affect quality of life, speech development, mental performance and can lead to depression and isolation. But there is help available, and research suggests treatment may even have positive effects on cognitive functions like memory in older adults struggling with hearing loss. During your consult at Lake Grove ENT, we will spend some time assessing your hearing level, exploring how your hearing works, what causes hearing loss, and how it can be treated. 

Residents of the Lake Oswego, Oregon area coping with hearing loss can get help with the team of doctors and audiologists at Lake Grove ENT. As a premier group of Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialists and Doctors of Audiology, we pride ourselves with helping patients with an array of ENT-related conditions using state of the art technology for diagnosis and treatment.

How hearing works

Your ears consist of three main parts: the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. To hear something, sound waves need to pass through the ear canal and create vibrations felt by your eardrum (also called the tympanic membrane, located in your middle ear). Once the vibrations hit the middle ear, the vibrations are amplified by the small bones of the middle ear and transmitted to the inner ear.  The vibrations then pass through fluid within a structure called the cochlea. Within the cochlea are thousands of tiny hairs that convert sound vibrations into electrical signals. The signals are then transmitted to your brain where it is turned into sound you can comprehend.

Causes of hearing loss

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) breaks down hearing problems into three categories: 

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is a result of pathology in the ear canal, ear drum or middle ear.   This can be caused by ear infections, foreign bodies, allergies, swimmer’s ear, wax buildup, abnormalities with the ear drum, scarring or from benign or malignant tumors in the eart.

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNL)

This condition is the result of damage to the inner ear or the nerve pathways to your brain, and is often permanent. As a result, normal, distinct, or loud sounds become muffled and hard to make out. This can be caused by defects and pathology at the time of birth, head trauma, working around loud noises, aging,  inner ear disorders, and tumors. Viral or bacterial infections can also lead to SNL.

Mixed hearing loss

This is a combination of both conditions.


Treatment for hearing loss will depend on the type of loss you’re experiencing as well as the severity of the condition. We will typically start your visit with a full audiogram to assess your hearing levels.  Examination of the ear and ear canal will also assist in diagnosis.  Treatment of wax impaction and infection will often be performed on the same day.  Sensorineural hearing loss may often be treated with hearing amplification.  Structural problems, like abnormalities in the eardrum or the related bones can be treated using surgery.  Imaging of the middle and inner ear may be recommended to further assess the nature of the problem. 

Hearing loss can be distressing, but we are here to help you understand what’s causing your conditions and offer solutions to restore hearing as best as possible. If you’re experiencing hearing problems, make an appointment with Lake Grove ENT.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What’s Causing Your Recurring Ear Infections?

Your ears are critical to how you hear the world around you and maintain your balance. Ear infections can create problems with both, and chronic issues with infections can make your life even more difficult.

5 Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty

Sinusitis is a common condition that millions of people deal with, which can make you feel miserable especially if it becomes chronic. Balloon sinuplasty is a method of treatment that can unblock sinuses and give you relief.

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder affecting millions of Americans and their ability to get proper rest at night. But how dangerous is it and what should you do if you have it? Read on to find out more.

Telltale Signs of Sinusitis in Kids

Sinusitis is a nasal infection that can affect anyone, but there are differences in how this illness affects children and adults. Read on to find out more about the specific signs of this condition in kids.

3 Reasons Why Tonsillitis Should Never Go Untreated

Tonsillitis is a very common condition in children and most cases are mild and clear up in a short time. However, seeking treatment is still important to avoid complications your child may encounter if the condition worsens.

What Causes Frequent Nosebleeds?

Most people have dealt with a nosebleed at some point in their lives, but not everyone has them frequently. What’s responsible for frequent nosebleeds, and is there any reason to be concerned? Read on to find out more.