When the transmission of sound waves through the outer or middle ear gets impaired, it can manifest in conduction deafness. The causes, symptoms, and treatment of this condition are briefly discussed in this HealthHearty article.
Conduction deafness is a type of deafness, that is caused by a problem in the conduction or transmission of sound waves either through the outer or the middle ear. This type of deafness or hearing loss can be a temporary condition, or it could be permanent. Conduction or conductive deafness can be caused by several factors, some of which can be treated easily to restore normal hearing. The treatment of this condition can vary depending on the underlying causes.
When the bones of the middle ear fail to send sound waves to the inner ear, it can lead to conductive deafness. There are three tiny bones in the middle ear that facilitate the movement of sound waves to the inner ear. But sometimes, calcium can build up and make the bones of the middle ear unable to move freely. This in turn, can impair the movement of sound waves to the inner ear.
Another common cause is the accumulation of excess earwax in the ear canal. This can impair the normal transmission of sound waves to the middle and inner ear. Like earwax, fluid can also build up in the ear canal. The affected individual can hear sounds, which are weaker, less clear, and distorted or muffled.
Sometimes, a malfunctioning eardrum can also cause loss of hearing, especially if the eardrum is unable to vibrate the sound waves properly. This can be the result of an accumulation of fluid in the ear canal or an infection. Apart from these, some other possible causes of conductive deafness are, infections of the external ear, tumors of the ear canal, perforation of the tympanic membrane, infection of the middle ear, and otosclerosis (development of bony outgrowths in the middle or inner ear).
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptoms of conduction or conductive hearing loss is the inability to hear clearly. The affected individual can hear sounds that are distorted or unclear. Apart from this, one can also experience a feeling of fullness in the ear. Tinnitus is another symptom that can be experienced.
Conduction and Sensorineural Deafness
Conduction deafness is different from sensorineural hearing loss or deafness. Sensorineural deafness is caused when the nerve impulses fail to reach the auditory center located in the brain. This is caused by the damage to the sensory nerves present in the inner ear, or a defect of the cranial nerve, which is known as vestibulocochlear nerve.
This type of nerve damage can prevent the proper transmission of sound impulses from the inner ear to the auditory center of the brain. Problems in the central processing center of the brain can also cause this type of deafness. Unlike conduction deafness, sensorineural deafness is not caused by a problem in the conduction of sound waves.
The treatment of conduction or conductive hearing loss depends on its causes. If it is caused by the accumulation of earwax, then it can be easily treated by removing the earwax. If it is caused by the accumulation of fluid in the ear, then normal hearing can be restored by draining the fluid.
On the other hand, medications like antibiotics can be required for treating this hearing problem, if it is caused by ear infections. Apart from these, surgery can also be required at times for treating conductive hearing loss. Physicians usually opt for surgery, when this ear problem is caused by eardrum perforation, otosclerosis, or any kind of abnormal growths in the ear. Hearing aid is another option for correcting impaired hearing.
If you suspect that you have this condition, or observe any of the symptoms mentioned above, then immediately consult a physician. Many times, conductive deafness causes only temporary hearing loss, and so, normal hearing can be restored with timely diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.