A combination of conductive and sensorineural components. In general, there are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural and mixed hearing loss. Mixed hearing loss can be seen as a combination of the first two. It is actually a sensorineural hearing loss with some kind of a conductive component. In addition to some irreversible hearing loss caused by an inner ear or auditory nerve disorder, there is also a dysfunction of the middle ear mechanism that makes the hearing worse than the sensorineural loss alone. The conductive component may be amenable to medical treatment and reversal of the associated hearing loss, but the sensorineural component will most likely be permanent. Hearing aids can be beneficial for persons with a mixed hearing loss, but caution must be exercised by the hearing care professional and patient if the conductive component is due to an active ear infection.
Audiologist Mark Ross, Ph.D., recommends taking care of the conductive component first. There have been times when the addition of the conductive component made the person a better hearing aid candidate, by flattening out the audiogram for example, while the underlying sensorineural component presented a high-frequency loss. However, still the emphasis would be on treating medically what can be treated. He says that, generally, you would expect positive results.