The countless miniature nerve endings in your inner ear are central to your hearing. If these nerve endings are destroyed, or if damage happens in other regions of the inner ear, sensorineural hearing loss can result.
A person who is suffering from sensorineural deafness is not necessarily completely deaf. Rather, it lowers the person’s ability to hear certain sounds. A person suffering from sensorineural hearing loss make claim that some sounds are actually too loud while other sounds are instinct and muffled. Background noise frequently compounds the problem. Speech can be particularly hard to decipher in noisy environments. The individual may have difficulty when attempting to follow a conversation with more than one person speaking and may notice that women’s voices are more difficult to understand than men’s. People with sensorineural hearing loss may also find themselves feeling dizzy or experiencing ringing in the ears.
Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors. In some cases the individual has this problem from birth. 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 causes. One such cause is acoustic trauma, or contact with an excessively loud noise. Similarly, long term exposure to loud noise (typical of construction workers and musicians) can cause inner ear damage.
Many people don’t realize that a virus can lead to sudden, sensorineural hearing loss. These infections include measles, mumps and meningitis. Equally problematic is Meniere’s Disease, which can lead to fluctuating hearing loss as well as vertigo and tinnitus. In both cases, corticosteroids may be able to provide relief.
Abrupt changes in air pressure and head trauma can cause sensorineural hearing loss, as can other physical issues such as tumors. Otosclerosis, a hereditary disorder in which a bony growth in the middle ear disrupts hearing, is another physical cause of this type of hearing loss.
While sensorineural hearing loss can have a profoundly negative effect on your quality of life, there are treatments available.