Hearing loss comes in several forms. Learning to live with sensorineural hearing loss isn’t easy for the person who has it or the family who loves them. It often leaves the person feeling agitated and frustrated because they cannot understand the sound or are aware that there is sound, but they can’t hear it.
What causes Sensorineural hearing loss?
To understand sensorineural hearing loss is to learn a little about how sound and hearing work.
The ear has three parts: the outer, middle, and inner ear. Each section has a vital role to ensure you hear the world around you. When you experience sound like a siren, it enters the outer part of the ear and collects sound waves then channels them into the ear canal where the sound amplifies.
The sound waves then travel toward a flexible, ear canal called the eardrum, which causes the eardrum to vibrate. In the middle ear, tiny bones start to move because of the vibration and these bones push the sound into your inner ear called the cochlea. The cochlea, lined with tiny vibrating hair, converts its waves into an electric signal.
They become a message that is sent to your brain that tells you that you are hearing sirens. When you experience hearing loss, it is because the connections from the ear to the brain have become interrupted and are no longer working as they should.
When damage to the inner ear, or the cochlea, occurs, it is called sensorineural hearing loss SNHL or nerve deafness hearing loss. Disease or injury has caused the tiny hair cells or neural fibers that move sound through the ear to stop working. Damage to the auditory nerve can also cause SNHL.
Sensorineural deafness can be present at birth caused by infections that are passed from mother to baby in the womb or genetic syndromes.
SNHL can also occur in adults or children later in life because of the following causes:
- Immune disease
- Infections like measles, mumps, or scarlet fever
- Vascular or blood vessel disease
- The natural process of aging
- Excessive noise or loud working environment
- Meniere disease
- Use of certain medicines
The cause can be unknown in some cases.
Living with Sensorineural Hearing Loss
SNHL interferes with the loudness and clarity of sounds. Higher-pitched sounds are easier to hear than others based on the frequency range. Lower-pitched voices like in men may be easier to hear than higher-pitched voices. Or the opposite could occur. When a person experiences sound in the damaged hearing range, it may sound like mumbling.
Here are a few signs you might be experiencing sensorineural hearing loss
Louder sounds in one ear
- Conversations may be difficult to follow.
- Noisy environments make it difficult to hear
- Women’s voices are more difficult to hear than men’s
- Difficulty distinguishing high-pitched sounds
- Experience hearing muffled or faint voices
- Conversation is unclear because of background noise.
You may experience increased sensitivity to some sounds. Some sounds may leave you frustrated and louder noises may be agitating. As your brain works to find a balance with hearing, you frequently ask people to raise or lower their voices.
You may constantly change the volume on your TV or cell phone or simply have a hard time understanding what people are saying. Not only is this frustrating, but it is also exhausting because no one talks loud enough for you to understand especially when you are in social settings like restaurants or large gatherings. Missing out on conversations is one of the most difficult aspects of SNL.
If you find yourself no longer taking part in conversations or avoiding social settings because you aren’t hearing as well as you used to, you might want to see your local audiologist for evaluation and treatment.
How is Sensorineural hearing loss treated?
There are several options available to help you hear better without hearing aids. However, the physical damage to the ear that causes SNL is permanent.
Hearing aids are the best way to get immediate results because they help increase the clarity of sounds and speech around you. Hearing aids reduce the mental strain of focusing on a conversation. They help you become more aware of your environment. Although there is no cure for hearing loss, hearing aids help you maintain the hearing you still have.
To ensure you purchase the healing aids that are right for you, visit your local audiologist. They will test your hearing sensitivity and diagnose the severity of sensorineural hearing loss. Upon diagnosis, they will provide you with a treatment plan that may include one or more types of treatment:
- Regular observations and hearing tests
- Medical treatments like corticosteroids reduces cochlear hair cell inflammation caused by exposure to loud noises.
- A low-sodium diet
- Hearing aids
- Surgery to correct the cause of hearing loss
- Hearing device implants
If you feel someone in your life is suffering from nerve deafness and hearing loss, call our office today. We are committed to helping you and your loved ones to hear better. Follow this link to schedule a free consultation.