Common Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

by Debbie Clason for Healthy Hearing

February 6, 2018 - If you’ve recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, you’re in good company. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one in eight people in the United States over the age of 12 has hearing loss in both ears. Of the three types of hearing loss, more than 90 percent is sensorineural.

What is sensorineural hearing loss?

Having sensorineural hearing loss means you have damage to the hair cells in your inner ear or to the nerve pathways that lead from the inner ear to the brain. While much of sensorineural hearing loss is age-related, there are other factors that may cause it, too. Many people with sensorineural hearing loss report that they can hear, but they cannot understand speech. This is especially true in the presence of background noise, and it can be frustrating.

There are two types of sensorineural hearing loss: congenital and acquired sensorineural hearing loss.

Congenital sensorineural hearing loss happens during pregnancy. Some causes include:

Acquired sensorineural hearing loss occurs after birth. Causes can include:

Treatment for sensorineural hearing loss

Although most sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, many with presbycusis or acquired sensorineural hearing loss may benefit from wearing hearing aids. Those with severe sensorineural hearing loss – congenital or acquired – may benefit from a cochlear implant, an electronic hearing device which is surgically implanted directly into the inner ear with an external portion worn behind the ear.

Of course, the first step to better hearing is to have a thorough hearing examination from a qualified hearing healthcare professional. They can work with you to determine the cause and extent of your hearing loss, as well as develop an individualized plan to treat it.

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