The countless miniature nerve endings in your inner ear are central to your hearing. If these nerves are destroyed, or if damage happens in other regions of the inner ear, sensorineural hearing loss can result.
Sensorineural hearing loss generally does not result in total deafness. The hearing loss is often limited to certain sounds and frequencies. You might notice that some types of sounds are much less distinctive, while others are too loud for comfort. Noisy environments can make it tough for you to pick out speech patterns. The individual may have trouble when trying to follow a conversation with more than one person speaking and may notice that women’s voices are harder to understand than men’s voices. Individuals with sensorineural deafness may also find themselves feeling dizzy or experiencing ringing in the ears.
Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors. Sensorineural hearing loss may be present at birth for some people. The disorder may have an underlying genetic cause. It can also arise from particular infections which can be passed from mother to child.
Sensorineural hearing loss that begins later life can have many different root causes. One such cause is acoustic trauma, or exposure to an extremely loud noise. The damage can also accumulate from continuous exposure to loud noises. This reason for sensorineural hearing loss is quite common among construction workers or musicians.
Sensorineural hearing loss can come on suddenly, such as in the case of viral infections. These infections include mumps, meningitis and measles. Fluctuating hearing loss that comes and goes combined with vertigo and tinnitus can be a sign of Meniere’s Disease. Both conditions can potentially be treated with corticosteroids.
Tumors can cause sensorineural hearing loss as can head traumas and rapid changes in air pressure. Otosclerosis, a hereditary disorder in which a bony growth in the middle ear disrupts hearing, is another physical cause of sensorineural hearing loss.
Untreated sensorineural hearing loss often diminishes quality of life. Luckily it can be reversed or improved in many cases.