Symptoms and causes

The test consists of two parts:

  1. the middle ear, the eardrum and the auditory bones. This portion is 'mechanical' and ensures that sound is conducted to the cochlea.
  2. The inner ear consists of the cochlea and the balance system. This portion is 'digital' and ensure that the sound waves are converted into electrical signals before being transmitted to the brain.

There are two types of hearing loss:

  1. if there is a problem with the mechanical portion, there may be 'conduction loss': this can be treated in many cases with medication, an ear tube or a middle ear operation. Examples include fluid in the middle ear, a perforated eardrum and otosclerosis, among others.
  2. If there is a problem with the digital portion, this can lead to 'perceptive' or 'neurosensorial' hearing loss. This cannot be resolved with an operation. Depending on the cause, it may be treated with medication or with a hearing aid. Examples include age-related hearing loss, sudden deafness and hearing loss due to Ménière's disease, among others.

Diagnosis and treatment

The difference between the two types of hearing loss can be determined by looking into the ear (otoscopy) and by performing tuning fork tests and hearing tests (audiometry).

Treatment centres and specialisations

Ear, nose, and throat diseases

Latest publication date: 21/01/2021
Supervising author: Dr Vermeiren Judith