Broadly hearing loss can be divided into hearing loss due to problems preventing sound from getting to the inner ear (conductive hearing loss) and problems in the inner ear or the nerves between the inner ear and brain (sensorineural hearing loss).
Conductive hearing loss can be caused by blockage of the outer ear canal for example due to ear wax and/or problems with the middle ear for example the eardrum or small bones in their middle ear. If the problem can be corrected for example by removal of ear wax then no further treatment may be required. If there is damage to the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear an operation can improve the hearing. Alternatively hearing aids can be used.
Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be corrected. The causes include changes due to age and previous noise exposure. If the hearing loss is sufficient a hearing aid may be appropriate. If there is significantly more sensorineural hearing loss in one ear compared with the other them it would be important to rule out a swelling on the nerve to the ear for example an acoustic neuroma which on occasions can cause serious problems.