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Decreased hearing may be due to a blockage, such as wax or fluid, an eardrum perforation, or nerve loss. A sound blockage is one of the most treatable conditions, while nerve loss tends to be more challenging to address.

Our experienced ear specialists and audiologists will determine what is causing your hearing loss through our diagnostic audiology testing and create a personalized treatment plan that works for you. In cases not treatable by a procedure, we also offer advanced hearing aid evaluations and services.

Learn more about the different types of hearing loss, including tinnitus, and how the audiologists at Northwest Audiology can help improve your hearing and quality of life.

Have you noticed a change in your hearing or have you experienced hearing loss?

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There are two primary types of hearing loss -- Conductive and Sensorineural:

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves cannot be transmitted properly to the inner ear. This is generally caused by a blockage, infection, or trauma to the middle ear.


  • Wax buildup
  • Eardrum perforation
  • Middle ear fluid
  • Damage to the bones in the middle ear

Depending on the cause, conductive hearing losses may be reversible through in-office procedures or surgery.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the sensory cells or nerve endings in the inner ear. It generally affects older adults who gradually lose their hearing over time.


  • Noise trauma
  • Aging
  • Genetics

Although this type of hearing loss is permanent, hearing aids can help most people with sensorineural hearing loss. If the onset of sensorineural hearing loss is sudden, schedule an evaluation immediately for rapid intervention and treatment.


Tinnitus is a hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring, or ringing perceived in the ear and is frequently associated with some degree of hearing loss. Tinnitus can impact your daily life by increasing anxiety, moodiness, and sleep disruption.

The phantom noises can range from annoying to debilitating, and patients often feel desperate for relief by the time they schedule a visit.

The onset of tinnitus can be sudden, unilateral (affecting one ear), and/or pulsating in nature. Though tinnitus is not a specific disease or type of hearing loss, it can be a symptom of a more serious ear condition.

At Northwest ENT and Allergy Center, our initial tinnitus evaluation includes a thorough ear examination and hearing testing. After a complete assessment, your audiologist will provide a diagnosis and discuss the best and most effective options for relief. Because Tinnitus symptoms vary from person to person, we provide a personalized treatment plan to address your unique needs.

Hearing Tests

The hearing tests performed by your audiologist will determine the extent of your hearing loss.

Types of Hearing Tests

  • Tympanometry is used to detect disorders of the middle ear such as chronic ear infections, fluid behind the eardrum, abnormalities with the middle ear bones, or a hole in the eardrum.
  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs) are sound waves generated by the inner ear. Using advanced tools, we can measure these sound waves to evaluate inner ear health. OAEs are often used to identify hearing defects in infants and children too young to cooperate in conventional hearing tests.