Hearing Link

What is conductive hearing loss?

A conductive hearing loss affects the passage of sound between the ear drum and the inner ear. Sound passes down the ear canal to the ear drum and through the middle ear, where the sound is transmitted across the middle ear by the three bones called the ossicles to the inner ear.

Diagram of the human earA labelled diagram showing a cutaway of the different parts of the human ear, from the outer ear through the middle ear to the inner ear.

Video showing conductive hearing loss

Thanks to MED-EL.


Causes of conductive hearing loss

Details Links
Wax (cerumen)  A build-up of wax in the outer ear may stop sound from reaching the ear drum.

NHS Choices


Infection   Infection and inflammation in the outer ear (otitis externa) or middle ear (otitis media).

NHS Choices – otitis media

Hear-it – otitis media

NHS Choices – otitis externa

Hear-it – otitis externa

Hole in the eardrum (perforation)  A hole in the ear drum may be caused by several things including trauma (damage), pressure, ear surgery and infection.

NHS Direct Wales

NHS Choices

Glue ear (otitis media with effusion)  Inflammation in the middle ear with associated fluid filling the middle ear space around the ossicles. The fluid stops the ossicles and ear drum from moving effectively and stops sound from passing easily through to the inner ear.

NHS Choices


Inherited  May be caused by a syndrome or other genetic reasons.
Problem with the small bones (ossicles) in the ear (otosclerosis)  Stiffening of the chain of small bones in the middle ear prevents sound from passing easily through to the inner ear.



NHS Choices

Bang on the head (trauma) May disrupt the small bones in the middle ear that transmit sound. NHS Direct Wales
Ear surgery  May damage the ear drum or small bones in the middle ear stopping sound from passing easily through to the inner ear. Medic 8


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