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What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when damage is sustained to a person’s inner ear or to connecting nerves between the ears and the brain. More specifically, this kind of hearing loss happens to the inner ear when its hair cells or connecting nerves are damaged. Those who have lost their hearing due to this condition remark that they can hear speech being spoken in their surrounding areas, but cannot understand what exactly is being said. This inability to understand people speaking nearby is worsened with background noise and can become a frequently troubling phenomenon for those who suffer from this sort of hearing loss.

Man relazing on his couch with a laptop and his hearing aid

This type of hearing loss is permanent and can reduce even high-volume noises to low muffles as the condition worsens. Symptoms of this hearing loss are:

  • Lowered ability to hear or register soft sounds
  • Lessened ability to tell different speech signals apart
  • Changes to loud noise perception

When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, there are two kinds: congenital hearing loss and acquired hearing loss.

What is the Cause of Congenital Hearing Loss

This kind of hearing loss manifests during a woman’s pregnancy. Causes include:

  • Prematurity
  • Diabetes in the mother
  • Not enough oxygen during birth
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Rubella, or other diseases that are passed from mother to child while in the womb

What is the Cause of Acquired Hearing Loss

This type of sensorineural deafness can occur at any time after birth. It can be caused by:

  • Age: Presbycusis, also known as age-related hearing loss, is a condition that comes up as people age. It can be hard to pinpoint when a person suffers from it, as it tends to occur over a long period of time, affecting both ears in most cases.
  • Noise: Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can result due to a number of events. Being exposed to extremely loud noise, like an explosion or a nearby airplane taking off, is one way to suffer this kind of hearing loss. NIHL can also occur after being exposed to noises that are louder than 85 decibels (dB) for a considerable length of time. You should have your ears checked if you’ve ever been in situations in which you had to yell to be heard by those nearby or if your ears have ever started to ring after going to a live concert or a sporting event.
  • Disease and infections: Certain viral infections can cause sensorineural deafness, such as measles, mumps, and meningitis.
  • Trauma: Trauma-induced hearing loss can be caused by a person’s head taking a hit or to incredibly loud noises, like artillery fire. These kinds of trauma damage the inner ear, which can reduce hearing strength and quality.
  • Tumors: Certain tumors can cause hearing loss, such as acoustic neuroma, and cholesteatoma, which is an atypical growth within the middle ear.
  • Medications: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reported that over 200 medications and chemicals can damage our hearing health, including some antibiotics, cancer drugs, and even anti-inflammatory medications.

There are other types of hearing loss we believe people should know about in case you or a loved one struggles with any type of abnormality.