This is defined as partial or total hearing loss due to damage in the inner ear. Most commonly, the damage is to the hair cells in the cochlea (the snail-shaped part of the inner ear). Damaged hair cells cannot transmit electrical impulses to the auditory nerve and the result is all or partial hearing loss. This hearing loss can be present at birth or caused by disease, tumors, infections, or injury. In other words, your mother was right - don't stick anything bigger than your elbow in your ear.