Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common of the three types of hearing loss (with the other two being Conductive and Mixed hearing loss).

This type of hearing loss implies that you have damaged the tiny hair cells in the inner ear or the nerve that transmits sound to the brain or the brain itself. It is most often caused by the natural aging process or exposure to loud sounds. Read on and learn more about:

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Inside our inner ears are tiny hair cells that detect sound, and the hearing nerve that transmits it to the brain. Damage to the hair cells by age, sound or disease can result in sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss can be experienced in one ear only or in both ears. 

It is possible to be born with sensorineural loss, but it is more likely to acquire it over time. Age-related hearing loss (also known as Presbycusis) is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. The hearing loss can vary in degree from mild to severe or even profound and will tend to worsen slowly over time, depending on the cause. 

Other types of hearing loss

Often, hearing loss happens gradually over time. That’s why it's good to know the signs of hearing loss so you know what it might feel like if you experience it.

It can be difficult to identify the symptoms that are specific only to sensorineural hearing loss. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, then it’s likely that you suffer from hearing loss - and most likely, Sensorineural hearing loss:

Do you recognize any of these signs?
  1. Difficulty following conversations involving more than two people or when there’s background noise
  2. Trouble understanding verbal information in public, such as on loudspeakers, at restaurants, stores or at work
  3. Difficulty understanding phone conversations
  4. Sounds seem unclear or people sound like they are mumbling
  5. Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds
  6. Ringing or buzzing in the ears called Tinnitus is common with this type of losses.

In case you recognize any of the signs above, then you might suffer from hearing loss. You may even be experiencing more than one of these signs, which is normal. 
You are very welcome to contact us, in case you would like a professional opinion. In case you have hearing loss, we can also discuss options for you to improve your hearing quality.

 

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Often this type of hearing loss can be treated with the help of hearing aids. There is a wide variety of hearing aids available, so you can find a type that fits your needs and type of hearing loss.

Types of hearing aids

Sensorineural hearing loss type can not be treated by medicine or surgery. The best way to treat sensorineural hearing loss is to book a hearing test at a professional hearing clinic, get a diagnosis, and receive an introduction to your treatment options. 

We recommend that you adopt a treatment as early as possible as sensorineural hearing loss can have unwanted side effects like isolation and a lower quality of life.

 

What causes sensorineural hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs by damage to the hearing nerve or the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. This can happen due to several causes, including: 

  • Aging - age-related hearing loss (also called Presbycusis, which is the most common form of sensorineural hearing loss)

  • Exposure to loud sounds, such as a one-time explosion or exposure to loud sound over time

  • Head trauma caused by e.g. a blow to the head

  • Certain drugs and medications 

  • Genetics or complications during birth and pregnancy 

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Sudden sensorineural hearing loss

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) - known as sudden deafness - involves an unexplained rapid loss of hearing all at once or over a couple of days. It is almost always experienced in one ear only. Sometimes it can go away by itself or be reversed by medical treatment. If you experience sudden hearing loss, visit your doctor for medical advice.

What is the best hearing aid for sensorineural hearing loss?

The current gold standard in hearing loss treatment is hearing aids that are programmed and fitted for the individual user’s needs. 
The best hearing aid for you might not be the best hearing aid for someone else. Lifestyle factors, connectivity options, price, and overall appearance are among the factors to consider when choosing the right solution to treat your sensorineural hearing loss. 

Prevent hearing loss before it impacts you or a loved one

If you still have normal hearing, you can fortunately still help prevent hearing loss. Using hearing protection, such as ear plugs, moulds or ear-muffs can help prevent loss of hearing when you know you will be exposed to loud sounds, such as:

  • Garden tools like lawn mowers and leaf blowers 

  • Woodworking machinery 

  • Loud appliances

  • Work-related exposure, including factories, construction sites and even schools

  • Snowmobiles

  • Music

Ear plugs or ear-muffs can give your ears protection and should be worn to help avoid the possibility of damage to your hearing. 

Excessively loud everyday sounds, both at home and at work, can pose a risk to a person’s hearing, so it can be a good idea to invest in hearing protection. Avoiding loud sounds and reducing the amount of time one is exposed to everyday sounds may be helpful as well. 

Read more about hearing loss

Is sensorineural hearing loss a disability?

It can be. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including hearing loss. Over time, the government has clarified what types of disabilities or impairments warrant protection covered by the ADA. Formally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states, "Individuals with hearing impairments can perform successfully on the job and should not be denied opportunities because of stereotypical assumptions about hearing loss."

However, classifying an impairment as a disability depends on the severity of the loss and the need for accommodations. Not all people with sensorineural hearing loss would need accommodations — especially if they are wearing hearing aids that help them listen on par with their peers, but an individual with hearing loss may need adjustments, technical support or other help. 

Some accommodations may include phones, software or electronics that integrate with hearing aids. They may also include providing sign language interpreters, allowing a hearing dog (if an establishment prohibits dogs) or work area adjustments in compliance with the ADA.

 

Carsten Ahlbom, Senior International Trainercarsten-ahlbom
Carsten Ahlbom is an electronic engineer and  has over 40 years experience working in the hearing field. He has been part of developing hearing solutions, such as hearing aids, methods for fitting and counselling. He has been teaching audiology as universities in Warsaw, Poland and Copenhagen, Denmark.

He has been travelling to more than 70 countries training audiologists in universities, public and private clinics in fitting, hearing aids, earmoulds etc.