When there’s damage to the hair cells inside the inner ear or damage to the hearing nerve (or both), this results in sensorineural hearing loss. A mostly permanent condition, sensorineural hearing loss changes your ability to hear quiet sounds and reduces the quality of the sound that you hear by quite some margin.

Sensorineural hearing loss may affect one or both ears. A lot of sufferers find it difficult to hear speech clearly, as it can sound like people are mumbling in conversations, and this situation is much more noticeable in noisy places. It’s important that you take note of sensorineural hearing loss symptoms, so you can better take care of any loved ones with the condition.

Boots Hearingcare looks at further points around sensorineural hearing loss, as well as some of the additional issues patients may face…

Causes of sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is sometimes known as nerve-related hearing loss, on account of the way deafness sets in through trauma to the cochlea nerve endings.

There are two different types of sensorineural hearing loss: congenital and acquired.

Congenital hearing loss happens at birth; it can be inherited genetically or during the foetal development stages. Acquired hearing loss happens after birth and can be due to a variety of factors.

The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:
  • Aging
  • Lengthy exposure to loud noises
  • Injury to the head or ear
  • Certain medications
  • Infections such as measles, mumps or meningitis
  • Ménière’s disease
Another thing to bear in mind is family history. If a more senior member of your family has sensorineural hearing loss that came on without any external interference, this makes you more susceptible.

Symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss

Because sensorineural hearing loss tends to happen gradually over time, it’s good to know the signs of this type of hearing loss, so you know what it might feel like if you experience it and can then proceed with getting the appropriate medical treatment.

Symptoms that are common with sensorineural hearing loss include:
  • Certain sounds seeming overly loud in one ear
  • Problems following conversations between two or more people
  • Difficulty hearing in noisy areas
  • Other people’s voices sounding mumbled or slurred
  • Difficulty hearing over background noise
  • Feeling of being off-balance or dizzy
  • Tinnitus
Identifying the symptoms that are exclusive only to sensorineural hearing loss can be difficult. However, if you experience any of the above symptoms, then it’s likely that you’re suffering from some form of sensorineural hearing loss – and should seek immediate medical treatment.

Treatment for sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is typically treated with the help of hearing aids. There are many types of hearing aid available, so be sure to find a model that fits your needs.

Sensorineural hearing loss is untreatable through medicine or surgery. We recommend that you adopt a treatment plan put together by your GP or audiologist as soon as possible, given that sensorineural hearing loss can have unwanted side effects such as isolation and lower quality of life.

Frequently asked questions

How common is sensorineural hearing loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of deafness. You’ll find that most people who wear hearing aids have been diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss. Therefore, it’s imperative that you seek medical guidance if any of the abovementioned symptoms begin manifesting themselves.
Can sensorineural hearing loss be reversed?
Sadly, the ageing and noise exposure associated with sensorineural hearing loss leads to a permanent change in hearing. This means it cannot be reversed. However, it is possible to improve your quality of hearing and overall hearing health with hearing aids.
Will a hearing aid help with sensorineural hearing loss
Most people with sensorineural hearing loss find that having a hearing aid can help greatly, as it helps to provide greater clarity and increases overall sound quality.

Although, if your hearing is only mildly affected by the condition, you may not need a device at all. Such a decision will be advised by your doctor or audiologist.

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