Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, which means the outer or middle ear and the inner ear are affected to some degree.


Mixed hearing loss can range from mild to profound and can affect one or both ears. Many people find that it's difficult to hear speech clearly and it can sound like people are mumbling in conversations. You may need the television volume turned up and it can be much more difficult to hear conversations in noisy places.


As a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, there are several causes for mixed hearing loss. These include:

  • Genetic factors
  • Ageing
  • Excessive noise
  • Certain medications
  • Birth conditions
  • ear infections
  • Tumours and disease
  • Head trauma
  • Earwax


Mixed hearing loss is diagnosed during a hearing test. An audiology professional will perform a test called tympanometry, which can identify issues with the eardrum and the middle ear. An audiogram will test how well you hear sounds via headphones or inserted earphones and compare this to test results using bone conduction to determine the level of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Speech testing will determine how clearly you understand speech at amplified levels and in background noise.

Treatment and prevention

Treatment for mixed hearing loss will depend on the extent of your hearing loss and if both ears or just one ear is affected.

An audiology professional will be able to recommend the best option for you, which may involve you seeing a medical professional to treat the conductive component (the outer or middle ear concerned).

The most common treatment for the sensorineural component is wearing a hearing aid (or aids). You can help prevent the extent of sensorineural hearing loss by wearing hearing protection when around loud noise.