Hearing Concerns

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss or SNHL is the most common type of permanent hearing loss, and in most cases, even medicines or surgery cannot reverse it. However, there are various treatments and interventions, like hearing aids, that could help manage sensorineural hearing loss.

How Hearing Works

Before delving deeper into sensorineural hearing loss, it is important to understand how hearing works.

The ear is divided into three basic parts – the inner, outer, and middle ear. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by inner ear damage. Problems linked to nerve pathways lining the inner ear and the brain could be the reason for sensorineural hearing loss.

When a person has sensorineural hearing loss, soft sounds may be difficult to hear and loud sounds may be perceived as muffled or distorted.

Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by any of the following:

  • Aging
  • Illnesses or infections
  • Genetic hearing loss / acquired hearing
  • Drugs that are toxic to hearing
  • Concussions
  • A problem in the anatomy of the inner ear
  • Exposure to loud noises or explosions

Does sensorineural hearing loss occur suddenly or gradually?

In most cases, sensorineural hearing loss is a gradual deterioration of hearing thresholds. This means that it occurs over a period of years or even decades. A large portion of the frequency range is affected as the hearing loss progresses.

Sensorineural hearing loss may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as tinnitus or vertigo.

In most cases, sensorineural hearing loss is a gradual deterioration of hearing thresholds. This means that it occurs over a period of years or even decades. A large portion of the frequency range is affected as the hearing loss progresses.

Sensorineural hearing loss may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as tinnitus or vertigo.

Veterans and Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Many veterans suffer from sensorineural hearing loss because of their line of work – being exposed to loud noises from firearms, jet engines, artillery, etc.

What is the most common kind of sensorineural hearing loss?

The most common kind of sensorineural hearing loss is age-related (presbycusis) followed by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

What is sudden sensorineural hearing loss?

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss, referred to as sudden deafness, is a quick loss of hearing that is usually unexplained and happens all at once or over a few days. In several cases, sudden sensorineural hearing loss occurs due to problems with the inner ear. SSHL usually affects only one ear.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss and sudden sensorineural hearing loss may overlap and could also be symptoms of other hearing issues. These symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty understanding speech
  • Muffled hearing
  • Full or “stuffy” sensation in the ear
  • Sudden or steady loss of hearing
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Dizziness

On this note, consulting with an audiologist is highly recommended to get to the bottom of what could be the cause of your hearing issues. Since the symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss may overlap with other hearing conditions, diagnostic or confirmatory tests are necessary.

Diagnosing Sensorineural Hearing Loss

An audiogram or pure tone audiometry is the most common test to diagnose sensorineural hearing loss. During this evaluation, bone conduction thresholds are measured. Tympanometry and speech audiometry are additional tests to rule out other possible causes of sensorineural hearing loss.

Can sensorineural hearing loss be treated?

While there is still no recommended or proven cure for sensorineural hearing loss, management of the hearing loss through the implementation of effective hearing strategies and using hearing aids can greatly help.

For severe or profound hearing loss, cochlear implants may be an alternative. Cochlear implants and other implantable devices work as specialized hearing aids that may restore a functional level of hearing.

How do cochlear implants work?

Cochlear implants are surgically implanted in the inner ear and work by taking over the responsibility of the damaged parts of the inner ear to bring sound signals to the brain. Unlike hearing aids whose sole purpose is to provide amplification in various sound settings, cochlear implants have electrodes, magnets, and external components that work together to help recipients recognize speech and sounds better.

Cochlear implantation is not for everyone. It is usually an alternative offered to patients with severe and disabling hearing loss who have found no improvement or benefit from hearing aids.

What is the best treatment for sensorineural hearing loss?

Hearing aids and implantable devices are the most common approach for the treatment of sensorineural hearing loss. An audiologist or ENT will need to conduct a thorough evaluation to come up with a rock-solid treatment plan for sensorineural hearing loss.

Can you prevent sensorineural hearing loss?

In a way, sensorineural hearing loss can be preventable by avoiding exposure to the following:

  • loud noises
  • concussions
  • head trauma
  • ototoxic medications

Using hearing protection can also help prevent sensorineural hearing loss and other hearing-related issues for that matter. If you are constantly exposed to loud sounds and noises due to your hobbies or occupation, it’s best to invest in a good pair of hearing protection. There are also many apps to measure the sound level in an environment to help determine the strength of hearing protection needed.

Are you ready to hear better?

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Topics

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Are you ready to hear better?

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Hearing Loss Specialists

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic, and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!