Understanding What Sensorineural Hearing Loss Is

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) – occurring with inner ear damage – is the most common type of permanent hearing loss.

The tiny hair cells in the cochlea are lost throughout our lifetimes, causing our hearing to become less sharp gradually. In addition to the natural aging process, exposure to excessive noise can damage these hair cells.

Someone with SNHL may have difficulty hearing soft sounds, while even loud sounds may be muffled. Although medications or surgery cannot typically resolve SNHL, hearing aids will likely significantly improve the person’s hearing ability.

What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

SNHL differs from the other types of hearing loss, which are conductive and mixed hearing loss. 

Conductive hearing loss occurs in the outer and middle ear and can often be resolved with medicine and surgery. 

Mixed hearing loss is damage to the outer or middle ear as well as the inner ear. This type of loss can often be assisted by audiologists.

Causes of SNHL

This type of hearing loss can stem from the following:

  • Diseases: Conditions such as mumps, multiple sclerosis, meningitis, and Meniere’s disease are tied to SNHL.
  • Medications: Ototoxic drugs – those that can cause hearing loss – include aspirin, quinine, cisplatin, or antibiotics such as gentamicin and streptomycin.
  • Hereditary: This hearing loss can run in the family.
  • Loud noises and explosions: SNHL is becoming more common, partially due to the increased listening of loud music in headphones and exposure to excessive environmental noise.
  • Issues at birth: SNHL can occur when a mother has rubella (German measles) during pregnancy or if the child’s birth weight is low.
  • Head damage: A blow to the head can damage the inner ear.

The Importance of Understanding Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Understanding sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is crucial for early detection and appropriate management such as:

Prevention of Further Damage

Early identification of SNHL allows individuals to take proactive measures to prevent further damage to their hearing. For instance, if noise exposure is identified as a cause, individuals can limit their exposure to loud noises and protect their ears from harm.

Preservation of Quality of Life 

If left untreated, hearing loss can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. It can lead to social isolation, communication difficulties, and decreased participation in daily activities. Early detection and intervention can mitigate these negative effects, allowing individuals to maintain a higher quality of life.

Improved Communication 

Hearing loss can hinder communication, making it challenging to understand speech, especially in noisy environments. By identifying SNHL early, individuals can access appropriate interventions, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, which can improve their ability to communicate effectively.

Early Intervention in Children 

Early detection of SNHL in children is particularly important as it can impact their speech and language development. With early intervention, children with SNHL can receive appropriate support services, such as speech therapy, to facilitate their language acquisition and academic success.

Prevention of Secondary Complications 

Untreated SNHL can lead to secondary complications such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears), auditory processing disorders, and balance problems. Early detection and management of SNHL can help prevent or minimize these complications, improving overall health outcomes.

Tailored Treatment Plans 

Understanding the underlying cause and severity of SNHL allows healthcare professionals to develop personalized treatment plans for each individual. Whether hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive listening devices, or rehabilitation services, early detection ensures that individuals receive the most appropriate and effective interventions for their needs.

By raising awareness about SNHL and promoting regular hearing screenings, we can ensure that individuals receive timely interventions to address their hearing needs and enhance their overall well-being.

Audiologists & Hearing Aids In NYC

Audio Help Hearing Centers prides itself on delivering specialized hearing solutions through personalized service and hearing aid technology provided by New York City’s top hearing professionals. 

Audio Help has three New York City offices conveniently located in Manhattan (Chelsea Village, Columbus Circle, and Park Avenue) and additional offices in Scarsdale, NY (Westchester County) and Stamford, CT.