Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, which means there is damage in both the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear. This type of hearing loss ranges in severity from mild to profound. For people with mixed hearing loss, sounds can be both softer in volume and more difficult to understand.
Mixed hearing loss is caused by a combination of conductive damage in the outer or middle ear and sensorineural damage in the inner ear (cochlea) or hearing/auditory nerve. Genetic factors, overexposure to loud noise, certain medications and the normal ageing process can lead to sensorineural hearing loss. Birth defects, diseases, infections, tumours or masses and head injuries are all possible causes of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
If the hearing loss is mostly conductive, speech tends to sound understandable, but only if it’s loud enough and there isn’t too much background noise. If the hearing loss is mostly sensorineural, there may be difficulty understanding speech, even when it seems loud enough.
Depending on the degree and make-up of mixed hearing loss, it may be treated with medications, surgery, hearing aids or an implantable bone conduction hearing system.
A Baha bone conduction implant is an effective treatment for mixed hearing loss because it totally bypasses the conductive element of the hearing loss and needs only to address the sensorineural element. Air conduction hearing devices must compensate for both the conductive and the sensorineural elements. Studies also suggest that Baha improves speech understanding in mixed hearing loss.
A health professional can talk you through the options and help you make the most informed decision. If you don’t already have someone to speak to, we can help you find a clinic close to you. When considering what to do, the most important thing is to have all the information.