Sensorineural hearing loss affects both ears and is permanent. Over 90% of hearing problems in adults arise from Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL). It occurs due to damage of the inner structures in the auditory nerve and inner ear.
SNHL varies depending on the magnitude of damage:
• Mild hearing loss occurs between 25-40 decibels.
• Moderate hearing loss occurs between 40-55 decibels.
• Acute hearing loss occurs for more than 75 decibels.
Signs and Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Some of the tell-tale signs of loss of hearing include
• Difficulty in making out sounds with background noise
• Speech muffling
• Pulling out from conversations
• Increasing television and radio volumes
• Ringing sound in the ears (tinnitus)
• Difficulty in perceiving high pitch sounds
• Asking others to speak slowly and loudly
What Causes Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
What are the leading culprits of SNHL?
- Inner Ear Damage – Within the cochlea are fine tiny hairs known as stereocilia. They are responsible for converting sound vibrations into neural signals for perception by the brain. Prolonged exposure to loud noise or explosions beyond 85 decibels wears out the stereocilia. Damaged stereocilia result in the inefficient transmission of electric nerve signals into the brain. It thus becomes a challenge to make out words in the presence of background noises. You also start experiencing muffling for the high pitch sound tones.
- Congenital Loss – Out of 1000 births, 1-3 babies suffer from congenital SNHL. Congenital hearing loss arises during delivery due to certain birth abnormalities. Approximately half of the children with congenital SNHL acquire it genetically while the other half from prevailing environmental conditions. Certain gene mutations can lead to congenital hearing loss and lack of oxygen during gestation.
- Presbycusis – Aging is another major factor of sensorineural hearing loss. About 35% of adults more than 65 years old suffer from SNHL. As you age, the cochlea and auditory nerves grow weak and degenerate naturally over time.
- Trauma – Acoustic and head trauma significantly contribute to sensorineural hearing loss. Harsh, loud noises such as gunfire or explosions are likely to damage your internal auditory system. Consequently, accidents or traumas affecting your head may also pose a threat to your inner ear structure.
- Medications – Some drug treatments are ototoxic and can affect the internal ear system. For instance, Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have been flagged to cause tinnitus and SNHL. Other drugs such as diuretics, sedatives, aminoglycosides, and chemotherapy drugs may also cause sensorineural hearing loss in prolonged abuse.
There’s life beyond SNHL
It is possible to treat sensorineural hearing loss. The use of hearing aids is the most prevalent treatment option currently. For challenges with high-pitched notes, you could use special aids to help you dial in the sounds.
Cochlear implants are also gaining traction in the treatment of SNHL. The cochlear implant consists of a microphone and a receiver. The receiver is implemented surgically into your ear and sends electrical signals to the auditory nerve. The microphone is set behind the ear to collect sounds.
Excellent hearing yields to great conversations. Visit any of our Beltone Dallas Fort Worth locations for all your hearing needs and join the millions of happy clients out there.