Deafness, or hearing loss, happens when one or more parts of the ear aren’t working effectively. The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) share that the main types of deafness are:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss is a hearing loss in the inner ear. This usually means that either the cochlea, the connection to the auditory nerve, or the auditory nerve itself isn't working effectively. Sensorineural deafness is permanent.
  • Conductive deafness means that sound can't pass efficiently through the outer and middle ear into the inner ear. This is often caused by blockages such as wax in the outer ear, or fluid in the middle ear (glue ear). Glue ear is a very common condition, especially in pre-school children. Conductive deafness is usually temporary, but it can be permanent in some cases, such as with Microtia which is a congenital condition where one or both ears are underdeveloped. You can find out more information about this on Microtia UK website.  

It's possible for children to have a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. This is known as mixed deafness. One example of mixed deafness is when someone has glue ear as well as sensorineural deafness.

Deafness in one ear only is known as unilateral hearing loss, which can also be referred to as single-sided deafness (SSD).

Very few deaf children have no useful hearing. Most deaf children can hear some sounds at certain frequencies and loudness, and with the use of hearing aids or implants they are often able to hear more sounds.

You can find out more about deafness on the NDCS website.