Two Types of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

One type of sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to sensitive hair cells. These cells are located in the cochlea, the crucial part of your inner ear that transforms sound waves into electric nerve impulses, ready for your brain to process. It also filters out any background noise. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to make sense of what we are hearing.  

The cochlea looks a bit like a snail shell and is filled with fluid. When a sound wave reaches the cochlea, the vibrations within the fluid cause the tiny hair cells to also vibrate. It is these hair cells that create the all-important nerve impulses. If they are damaged at all or reduce in number, you may experience sensorineural hearing loss.

The other form of sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the nerves themselves. The auditory nerve connects the inner ear to the brain, and there are also smaller nerves located within the cochlea itself. Hearing loss due to inner nerve damage is more likely to be permanent but significant advances are being made with cochlear implants.

Causes Of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

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The causes of sensorineural hearing loss can be both congenital (present at birth) or something that develops over the course of your life. Here are some of the frequent causes of acquired sensorineural hearing loss that we deal with:

Age:

It is not uncommon for our hearing to gradually deteriorate with age. Typically, it is the higher pitch sounds that we begin to lose first. Genetics do play a significant role so sensorineural hearing loss can be inherited. If you know you have a family history of hearing loss, we would recommend that you have your hearing tested on a regular basis.

Noise Exposure:

Exposure to loud noises, either as a one-off or over a long period of time, can be hugely damaging to the inner ear. If you are unfortunate enough to be stood close to a incredibly loud explosion or a similar event, you may experience sudden hearing loss. In contrast, listening to music at high volume on a frequent basis will have a more gradual impact.

Infection:

Meningitis, measles and mumps are all known to cause sensorineural hearing loss. Less well known is the impact of diabetes, which can cause damage to inner ear cells.

Meniere’s Disease:

Can cause fluid to build up in the inner ear, having an impact on lower pitch sounds.

Ototoxic Medication:

Sensorineural hearing loss is a possible side effect of a number of medications including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and chemotherapy drugs. These medications would only normal be prescribed for serious health issues, with consideration given to your hearing.

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If you think you might be experiencing sensorineural hearing loss, please do talk to us. We can put you in touch with an expert hearing aid dispenser who will be able to accurately assess you and the find the most suitable treatment.

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Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treatment

With sensorineural hearing loss treatment, our priority is to find the tool or medication that best suits your lifestyle and level of hearing. Remember, sensorineural hearing loss can refer to two separate types of hearing loss, caused by nerve damage or hair cell damage.

Effective hearing loss treatment targets the root of the issue, and so our experienced hearing aid dispensers will recommend one that matches your exact diagnosis. If you experience both types of sensorineural hearing loss you may require multiple forms of treatment. To talk through the below treatment options, get in touch today.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treatment 1: Hearing Aids

In cases of sensorineural hearing loss where the primary issue is hair cell damage, a hearing aid is likely to be your best option. Whilst a hearing aid will never totally restore your hearing, it can be particularly effective for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. A hearing aid essentially works by amplifying the sound volume to a level that compensates for the loss of hair cells. Whilst hearing aids can amplify a sound, they can’t filter out any background noise in the same way that the cochlea does. If you have severe or profound hearing loss due to nerve damage, a hearing aid might not be the solution.

Thanks to advancements in technology, hearing aids are becoming increasingly smaller and yet more powerful. A wide range of styles mean that you can find one that feels comfortable to wear and helps boost your confidence. Common types of hearing aid include behind-the-ear, receiver-in-canal and in-the-ear. Each has its advantages and disadvantages so speak to your hearing aid dispenser about which will best suit your lifestyle. Whichever type you choose, they will fine-tune the settings to your exact level of hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treatment 2: Cochlear Implant

If your hearing loss is more severe, a cochlear implant could prove more effective than a hearing aid. Significant damage to the inner ear hair cells or nerves means that soundwaves aren’t being transformed into electrical signals that the brain can process and interpret. A hearing aid can increase the intensity of the soundwaves but not transform them. For that, you need a cochlear implant.

A cochlear implant is an electronic device which is surgically inserted in the damage portion of your ear. A sound processor is also attached behind the ear. The sound processor captures sound from the surrounding environment and converts it into a digital code. This digital code is then delivered through a wire to the internal cochlear implant, where it is then converted into a series of electrical signals. These signals are picked up by the auditory nerve and sent to the brain. Essentially, the cochlear implant fulfills the role that the hair cells are no longer able to do.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treatment 3: Medication

Sensorineural hearing loss caused by infection may be remedied by a course of steroids. These can normally be taken orally but some individuals do require an injection.

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If you are searching for guidance and further information on sensorineural hearing loss treatment, get in touch today. We partner with highly experienced hearing aid dispensers who can provide you with expert advice on your diagnosis, ensuring that you receive the most suitable treatment.

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