Whenever a sound wave hits your ear, miniature nerve endings in your inner ear convert them into electric signals that your brain understands as sounds. Unfortunately, these nerve endings can be damaged, as can other structures in your inner ear, leading to a condition known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Typically, sensorineural deafness does not result in a complete inability to hear. The hearing loss is frequently limited to certain frequencies and sounds. Some sounds may seem too loud, while others can seem much less distinct. Noisy environments may make it difficult for you to single out speech patterns. Men’s voices often sound clearer than higher-pitched women’s voices and following conversations with several speakers is particularly challenging. Troubles in hearing aren‚Äôt the only symptom of sensorineural deafness: ringing in the ears and dizziness can also occur.
There is no single cause of sensorineural deafness that applies to all individuals. Sensorineural hearing loss may be present at birth for some people. Congenital sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by genetic syndromes, as well as by infections that can pass from mother to infant in the womb.
As a person grows older, sensorineural deafness can be the result of a number of different issues. Acoustic trauma, contact with an excessively loud noise, can cause this issue. Steady exposure to lower level noise, such as working with noisy equipment or listening to loud music, can also result in inner ear damage.
Many people don’t realize that a virus can lead to sudden, sensorineural hearing loss. Viruses such as mumps, meningitis and measles can all lead to this issue. Meniere’s Disease, a syndrome that causes hearing loss, vertigo and tinnitus, can also lead to fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss. Corticosteroids may prove helpful in these two cases.
Tumors can cause sensorineural hearing loss as can head traumas and rapid changes in air pressure. A hereditary disorder known as otosclerosis can cause a bony growth to form around an important bone in the middle ear, leading to sensorineural hearing loss.
Without treatment sensorineural hearing loss often reduces quality of life. Fortunately it can be improved or reversed in many cases.