Sensorineural Hearing Loss

According to the NIDCD (National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders), hearing loss is one of the most common conditions afflicting the elderly today, with approximately 1 in 3 people between the ages of 65 and 74 experiencing some degree of hearing loss. The ratio increases to approximately 1 in 2 people after the age of 75. Among the vast and diverse population of individuals with hearing loss, the most common type is sensorineural – also referred to as Nerve deafness.

What Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused when the tiny hair cells of the inner ear become damaged, when the cochlea or other inner ear structures are damaged or when the auditory nerve malfunctions, disrupting the neural hearing pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss differs from the 2nd most common type of hearing loss – conductive – in that sensorineural loss is primarily an inner ear problem that is usually permanent and irreversible, while conductive loss is an outer or middle ear problem that normally can be treated with medication or surgery.

What Causes Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

As with most forms and types of hearing loss, the causes of sensorineural loss are far-ranging and eclectic. Some of the most commonly seen causations include:

  • Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, which is the gradual deterioration of hearing structures over time.
  • Diseases and inner ear structural problems, including viral and bacterial infections, meningitis, measles, mumps, multiple sclerosis, Ménière's disease and benign tumors that may compress the auditory nerve.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss, which can be either temporary or permanent and results from exposure to intensely loud noises at certain venues, such as musical concerts and construction sites.
  • Ototoxic prescription and over-the-counter medications, including select antibiotics, diuretics, quinine and pain relievers.

Sub-Types of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

SSHL (Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss) is a form of sensorineural acoustic loss that is rapid and usually unexplainable. The loss of hearing from SSHL may happen in a singular moment or occur over several days and generally affects only 1 ear, with 9 out of 10 people presenting unilaterally. SSHL should be treated as an aural emergency, and with treatment, most cases recover either completely or partially.

PBHL (Progressive Bilateral Hearing Loss) is a form of sensorineural loss that affects both ears and progresses over time, either rapidly over several months or slowly over years. Presbycusis is an example of PBHL that progresses slowly, while autoimmune disorders that attack the inner ear structures are examples of more rapidly progressing PBHL.

How Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treated?

In most instances, sensorineural hearing loss won’t respond to medical or surgical treatment measures. Even though the vast majority of patients with sensorineural loss won’t be able to regain their diminished hearing, the use of amplification devices, such as hearing aids are often very successful in managing and compensating for the loss of hearing. Browse our product gallery of amplification devices to learn more about potential treatment options.

What Should I Do If I Suspect Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

If you or someone you love is exhibiting symptoms of hearing loss, seeking professional advice as soon as possible is of critical importance.  Find an Avada Hearing Care Center that’s close to you, and request an appointment with one of our highly skilled hearing care specialists, who will work with you to identify the type and degree of your hearing loss and then develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your needs.

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