Sensorineural Hearing Loss: What Is It and How Is It Treated?

Senior Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
December 15, 2021

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There are multiple types of hearing loss, and one of them is sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). It’s important to know about it, including what can cause it and how it can be treated, because once you’re informed, you can take steps to protect or improve your own hearing or that of your loved ones. 

Ready to dive into this topic? Keep reading to access some helpful information.   

What is sensorineural hearing loss?

Put simply, sensorineural hearing loss—a common cause of permanent hearing loss—occurs when the inner ear is damaged. For example, the auditory nerve or the tiny hair cells might be damaged, and that may result in loss of hearing. 

When this hearing loss develops, it could be mild, moderate, or severe, and it might also cause a total loss of hearing. Also, it might happen in one or both ears. 

If you experience SNHL, you might notice symptoms like the following:

  • Trouble hearing people when they’re speaking, especially women and children
  • Difficulty hearing sounds that are high-pitched
  • Difficulty hearing when you’re in an environment with loud noise or background noise
  • Tinnitus
  • Trouble balancing
  • Dizziness

These symptoms may occur gradually, so you might not immediately realize that anything is wrong. However, if you develop sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), you may notice your hearing has changed over the course of days or even more rapidly than that. 

What can cause sensorineural hearing loss?

This type of hearing loss can develop at some point in a person’s life or it might be present at birth. 

Although it isn’t always possible to pinpoint the cause of sensorineural hearing loss, some of the potential causes include:

  • Aging
  • Illness, such as from a viral infection or autoimmune disorder
  • Meniere's disease
  • Exposure to loud noises 
  • Tumor
  • Trauma to the head 
  • Certain medications
  • Genetics

Can sensorineural hearing loss be treated?

Good news: with the help of a doctor, you might be able to get a hearing aid that will help you hear better if you’re diagnosed with SNHL! You can also try using other tools, such as a phone amplifier, to see if they’re helpful as well.  

If the hearing loss is severe, your doctor might recommend getting a cochlear implant, which would need to be surgically placed. Learning speech reading and sign language might also be beneficial. 

Work with your doctor to keep track of your hearing

As you get older, you might notice that your ability to hear starts to change. Or, you might experience an injury or be exposed to super loud noises that lead to changes in your hearing. When you notice that something isn’t right, it’s best to let your doctor know as soon as possible so you can figure out what’s going on and receive the right treatment. 

Another great way to keep track of your hearing is by seeing a doctor for a hearing test on a regular basis. By having a professional check your ability to hear sounds at various pitches, you might be able to find changes or problems in their earliest stages, maybe even before you notice anything is different. Whether your hearing loss is the result of the normal aging process or a condition that should be addressed, your doctor can be there to guide you. 





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