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Understanding Sensorineural Hearing Loss



Although Sensorineural hearing loss is only one of the three main causes of hearing impairments, close to 90 percent of all hearing loss cases are caused by it. Obviously, old age is the main cause of sensorineural hearing loss, but there are also other elements that may influence it. Let’s take a look at this particular condition, its pathology, and possible causes.

What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss refers to cases in which the auditory nerve or the cochlea, located in the inner ear, are damaged. The cochlea, which contains three chambers that are filled with fluids, is responsible for translating and transmitting sounds to the auditory nerve.

The auditory nerve is located between the brain and the cochlea. A healthy auditory nerve is composed of nerves that transfer electric information to the brain.

The two sensorineural hearing impairment types are congenital hearing loss and acquired hearing loss. Both types have a wide range of possible severity. In severe cases, sensorineural damage can even lead to deafness while moderate and mild conditions can be solved with the use of proper hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Most sensorineural impairments are caused because of damage to the cochlea hair cells.

Possible Causes

When the sensorineural damage happens because of the natural aging process it is called presbycusis. From all possible causes, presbycusis is the most common. The process is gradual and normally affects both ears. The most common symptom is an inability to hear high pitched sounds. Because sensorineural damage caused by presbycusis is a gradual process that accompanies old age, many people fail to recognize it and treat it. It is important to realize that untreated hearing loss of any type may lead to severe side effects such as depression and even increase chances of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and heart conditions.

Another common reason for sensorineural hearing loss is exposure to high decibel noises over a period of time.

It is well known that exposure to noise levels that exceed eighty-five decibels may damage the inner ear air cells and even the auditory nerve itself.

Other possible causes include various infections and diseases that can damage the inner ear, physical trauma, and tumors.

Like with all other types of hearing loss, awareness, and early detection can help in avoiding further deterioration or experiencing unwanted side effects such as social isolation and depression. Annual checkups at an audiology center, especially for those over the age of fifty-five, are recommended to ensure proper treatment is applied as soon as the first signs of hearing loss appear.