If you or your loved one was recently diagnosed with hearing loss, you may be interested in gaining a deeper understanding about your specific hearing loss type, whether it be sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, or mixed hearing loss.
Of these, sensorineural hearing loss is the most common, affecting roughly 9 out of 10 people with hearing loss. Some familiar examples include age-related hearing loss or noise-induced hearing loss. Rarer forms of this hearing loss type also exist, such as cookie bite hearing loss.
Given the prevalence of this hearing loss type, if you have a hearing impairment, there’s a strong chance it could be sensorineural. That being said, it’s valuable to understand what it is, what causes it, and what treatments are available.
What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss can be characterized as permanent damage to the inner ear (the cochlea) that results in impaired hearing. The “sensory” in “sensorineural” refers to the hair cells (or sensory receptors) in the inner ear, while the “neural” refers to the nerves in the inner ear.
For a person with normal hearing, sound waves enter the ears through the ear canal. Then, the sounds waves are carried by the hair cells and nerves to the auditory nerves and into their brain, allowing them to hear.
If a person has sensorineural hearing loss, and their hair cells or nerves are damaged, the sounds waves will struggle to travel from the ear to the brain, making it difficult to hear well.
In most cases, a person obtains this type of hearing loss because some of their hair cells are damaged. Unfortunately, when these hair cells die, they cannot be replaced, making their hearing loss permanent.
According to MedlinePlus, there are several symptoms to look for with this hearing loss type. Common symptoms may include:
- Loudness, or sensitivity, to sound in one ear
- Difficulty hearing women and children’s voices
- Trouble following conversations with two or more people
- Difficulty differentiating consonants (e.g. “steak” vs. “state”)
- The inability to hear amongst background noise
In addition to these symptoms, individuals with this hearing loss may experience symptoms of related medical conditions as well, such as issues with balance (Ménière's Disease or acoustic neuroma) to ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
What Causes Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
As mentioned, ‘sensorineural hearing loss’ is an umbrella term for hearing losses caused by damage to the inner ear. The causal factor of that damage differs for each sub-type of the hearing loss, however. Some notable causes include:
- Exposure to loud noises
- Physical damage to the head
- Ototoxic medications
- Disease (including meningitis, measles, and autoimmune disorders)
Can Sensorineural Hearing Loss be Treated?
As mentioned, sensorineural hearing loss typically involves permanent damage to one’s hearing. Today, no medical treatment is available for repairing damage to the inner ear. In the meantime, however, hearing aids are a great option for helping those with this type of loss to hear better.
By visiting your local ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor, you can participate in a formal hearing test to identify your specific type of hearing loss. After that, you’ll be prepared to purchase your very own pair of hearing aids.
At Advanced Affordable Hearing, our mission is to help people hear better at a price they can afford, and if you have hearing loss, we want to help you. To start your journey to improved hearing, visit our Online Hearing Check, or call one of our friendly representatives at .
For further assistance or answers to your questions, contact us.