Jefferson University Hospitals

Hearing Loss

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Hearing Test

Hearing disorders make it hard – but not impossible – to hear and can often be managed.

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. One in three adults over the age of 60 has hearing loss. If you or someone you love is experiencing hearing loss, turn to the experts at the Jefferson Balance and Hearing Center within the Department of Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery.

Jefferson otolaryngologists (physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of ears, nose, throat and head and neck disorders) excel at diagnosing and treating hearing loss, sinus problems, ear infections and more.

Types of Hearing Loss

Your treatment will depend on which type you have. Jefferson Health providers can help diagnose and determine the best care approach specific to your needs. There are three basic types of hearing loss:

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss makes it difficult for sounds to get into the inner ear, which means soft sounds become inaudible and loud sounds are muffled. It can be caused by: 

  • Fluid in your middle ear from colds or allergies
  • Ear infections of the middle ear
  • Poor Eustachian tube function
  • A hole in your eardrum
  • Benign tumors
  • Wax stuck in the canal
  • Infection in the ear canal, commonly referred to as swimmer's ear
  • An object stuck in your outer ear
  • Deformed ear canal or issues with the bones in their middle ear

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. It happens when there is inner ear damage. When nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain are damaged, soft sounds may be difficult to hear, and loud sounds may be unclear or muffled. Hearing aids may help this permanent type of hearing loss, which may be caused by: 

  • Certain drugs
  • Family history of hearing loss
  • Aging
  • Head injury
  • Problems with how the inner ear is formed
  • Loud noises or explosions


Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss affects the outer or middle ear, and the inner ear. When conductive and sensorineural hearing loss occurs at the same time, there may be damage in these areas. If you work around loud noise and have fluid in your ear, you may have mixed hearing loss.

Hearing Aid Options

If your physician determines that you have hearing loss and it cannot be treated by medical or surgical intervention, hearing aids may be an option for you. Determining which hearing aid is right for you, however, can be a daunting task.

At the Jefferson Balance and Hearing Center, an audiologist will assess if you would benefit from hearing aids and help you decide what is best for your lifestyle, in addition to a full range of state-of-the-art digital hearing aids. Jefferson is also proud to be providers of the Lyric® 2 extended wear device and the SoundBite™ Hearing System for patients with single-sided deafness.