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What is sensorineural hearing loss?

"by " Albert Stein

Responsible for around 90 per cent of all types of hearing loss, those with this condition have had some damage or deterioration of their cochlea or auditory nerve.

These two structures are both in the inner ear. The cochlea is snail-shaped and contains three chambers that are all filled with fluid. These are able to translate sound wave vibrations into electrical information that is then sent to the auditory nerve.

That, in turn, transmits the information to the brain.

Sensorineural hearing loss can be present from birth but others acquire it.

Not everyone has the same symptoms, but you may experience some of them, including:

  • Noises seem too loud

  • Difficulty hearing in noisy areas, where there is background noise and following conversation when two or more people are talking

  • More problems hearing women's voices than men's

  • Trouble telling high-pitched noises such as "s" and "th"

  • You think other people's voices sound slurred or blurry

  • Feeling dizzy, off-balance (common with Meniere's)

  • You experience a ringing, buzzing, hissing or roaring sound in the ears – this could be associated with Tinnitus

The ageing process can be responsible for this condition, as can the following conditions:

  • Immune problems

  • Conditions of the blood vessels

  • Infections such as measles, mumps, scarlet fever and meningitis

  • Meniere's

  • Injuries to the head

  • Excessive noise or exposure to loud sounds that last a long time

  • Certain medications

Sometimes the cause is unknown.

A visit to your local clinician will aid you to determine which kind of hearing loss you are experiencing and once this has been interpreted, the best course of action can be determined.

There is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss, but the symptoms can be treated using hearing aids, telephone amplifiers and other assistive devices.

Some people benefit from a cochlear implant of their hearing loss is severe or profound. This is undertaken by surgically implanting an electrode into the inner ear and can restore sound awareness and help with speech understanding.