The countless miniature nerve endings in your inner ear are essential to your ability to hear. If these nerves are damaged, or if damage happens in other regions of the inner ear, sensorineural hearing loss can result.
Sensorineural hearing loss typically does not result in complete deafness. The hearing loss is frequently limited to certain sounds and frequencies. You might notice that some types of sounds are less distinctive, while others are too loud for comfort. Recognizing speech patterns becomes especially difficult, especially when listening in a noisy location. Following conversations can become difficult, especially if two or more people are speaking, while men’s voices may sound sharper than women’s. Difficulties in hearing aren’t the only symptom of sensorineural deafness: ringing in the ears and dizziness can also arise.
There are many different causes of sensorineural deafness. Sometimes this form of deafness is present since birth. Congenital sensorineural deafness can be caused by genetic syndromes, as well as by infections that can pass from mother to infant..
As a person matures, sensorineural deafness can be the result of a number of different issues. Contact with an extremely loud noise – also known as acoustic trauma – is one possible reason. Steady exposure to lower level noise, such as listening to loud music or working with noisy equipment, can also lead to inner ear damage.
Sensorineural hearing loss can come on suddenly, such as in the case of viral infections. These infections include measles, mumps and meningitis. Equally problematic is Meniere’s Disease, which can lead to fluctuating hearing loss as well as tinnitus and vertigo. Both conditions can potentially be treated with corticosteroids.
Abrupt changes in air pressure and head trauma can cause sensorineural hearing loss, as can other physical issues such as tumors. Other physical reasons for sensorineural hearing loss include the hereditary disorder otosclerosis where a bony growth in the inner ear interferes with hearing.
There is no doubt that sensorineural hearing loss can drastically decrease your quality of life, but there are ways to address it.