There are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive and mixed. Sensorineural is the most common type of hearing loss, affecting 9 out of 10 people with hearing loss in the US.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the tiny hair cells within your ear (stereocilia) or damage to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss usually affects both ears and is a permanent condition. There are varying levels of sensorineural hearing loss from mild to profound.
What Causes Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
Most people will have acquired hearing loss. This means the hearing loss developed later on in life, rather than being born with it (congenital hearing loss).
Causes of Acquired Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Acquired sensorineural hearing loss could be caused by:
- Age – Hearing loss is a common factor in getting older. 1 in 3 Americans experience Presbycusis, age-related hearing loss, between the ages of 65-74. This form of sensorineural hearing loss may go unnoticed due to the fact it developed slowly over a long period of time.
- Exposure to loud noises – Exposure to loud noises, be that a one-time loud noise such as an explosion or prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels, can cause noise-induced hearing loss. Being in environments where you have to shout to be heard or those that leave you with your ears ringing, such as nightclubs, put you at risk of damaging your hearing health.
- Infections – Many infections such as meningitis, mumps, scarlet fever and measles can cause sensorineural hearing loss.
- Ménière’s Disease – Ménière’s Disease is a condition that results in the fluid pressure in the inner being too high impacting both hearing and balance.
- Injury – Trauma to the head can cause sensorineural hearing loss.
- Tumors – Common tumors such as Acoustic Neuroma and Cholesteatoma can affect hearing.
- Medicines – Some medicines, around 200, are ototoxic or damaging to your hearing. They include a wide range of medicines such as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
There are many symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss including:
- Some sounds may seem overly loud in one ear.
- You may find it difficult to follow a conversation with more than two people.
- Hearing in noisy environments or in situations with lots of background noise may be harder.
- You may find hearing men’s voices easier to hear than higher-pitched female voices.
- Other people’s voices may seem mumbled or slurred making them hard to understand.
- You may experience dizziness and the feeling of being unbalanced – this is more common with Ménière’s Disease and Acoustic Neuromas.
- You may get a ringing or buzzing in your ear, known as tinnitus.
Treatments for Sensorineural Hearing Loss
In most cases, a hearing aid adjusted to your hearing needs is an effective treatment for sensorineural hearing loss. In more severe or profound cases, cochlear implants could offer a better solution.
To discuss treatment options that are suitable for you, please book an appointment with Family Audiology. Our hearing healthcare specialists are on hand to find the right hearing solution for your lifestyle. To book your appointment, call us today 607-323-4061 or click here to book a consultation with us online.