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Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Sensorineural hearing loss can occur over the course of minutes, hours or over the course of your lifetime.

In this informative blog post, we explain:

  • What is sensorineural hearing loss?
  • Sensorineural hearing loss causes
  • Symptoms of SHL
  • SHL treatment & management
  • How to manage hearing loss

What Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss (SHL) is one of the most common types of permanent hearing impairments. It is the result of damage to hair cells or nerves within the inner ear.

Often, a leading cause is damage to the cochlea (which is located in the inner ear). The hair cells within the cochlea move in response to sound pressure waves in the cochlear fluid and are responsive to their own specific frequency which causes sensitivity to sound. Continued exposure to loud noise, along with this sensitivity can spread to adjacent frequencies and produce a chronic loss of hearing.

Picture of the inner ear

However, sensorineural hearing loss can be appropriately managed with hearing aids. SHL also comes with a range of varying symptoms such as muffled hearing and tinnitus. If you believe you may be experiencing this kind of hearing loss, we recommend that you consult a medical professional or licensed audiologist.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

The condition's symptoms can vary from person-to-person. Some of the main symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss include:

Other symptoms include difficulty hearing when the speaker's face is not visible and misunderstanding some or all of the information. Therefore, people with untreated hearing impairments often have difficulty understanding speech and are generally unable to hear well when background noise interferes.

Additionally, people with minor auditory problems fail to notice the gradual loss. When you notice that an impairment is impacting your daily life, it may be time to try and manage the condition with digital hearing aids.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Causes

Sudden and Progressive are the two commonly recognized types of sensorineural hearing loss.

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is an otologic condition commonly defined as a quick decline in hearing. SSHL can be caused by a viral infection of the cochlea. Another cause is rupture or tears in the thin, oval and round window membranes surrounding the stapes footplate that can allow perilymph to flow out of the inner ear into the middle ear. Usually, such leaks are a result of a blow to the head or trauma. Occasionally they occur spontaneously.

Diagnosis can be difficult and typically relies on a history of head trauma or external-internal pressure changes.

Progressive sensorineural hearing loss includes noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and presbycusis. While NIHL arises from accumulated noise exposure over time, presbycusis comes along with physiologic aging. Conditions that may contribute to presbycusis include:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Exposure to harmful noise
  • Chemical exposure
  • Diet & metabolism
  • Genetic make-up
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Tumors
  • Smoking-fuelled lifestyle

A medical professional should be able to identify which type of SHL you have and recommend the appropriate next steps you need to take.

Treatment For Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hearing aids are the most effective treatment for managing SHL. They can be easily adjusted and tailored to the individual’s pattern of deafness.

The most basic form of sensorineural hearing loss treatment is salt restriction. Periodic use of vestibular suppressants is useful for treating dizziness. If medical therapy fails, surgical procedures can be considered.

Untreated hearing loss can be a significant cause of psychological withdrawal from social activities, leading to a feeling of isolation, lack of self-confidence and depression. That is why early detection is very important. The earlier an issue is identified, the easier it is for the patient to adjust to a hearing aid and the sooner they can start enjoying the freedom of being able to hear well again.

How Can We Help?

At Hearing Direct, you will find a collection of affordable devices.

Hearing aids can be an effective way to manage SHL. Ideal for mild to moderate impairments, the digital devices we supply host a range of features to help improve both your auditory capabilities and quality of life.

HD 250 Digital Hearing Aid

sensorineural hearing loss HD 250 Digital Hearing Aid

The HD 250 is one of our most popular models. Being an in-the-ear device, it's almost invisible when worn. There’s no need to visit an audiologist for a fitting, as one size fits all.

The HD 250 digital hearing aid will enable you to relax and immerse yourself in the sounds around you. Sound levels will automatically adjust to fit in with your listening environment, and with some excellent features so you can enjoy the sounds you love. As for the price – it’s remarkably good, given the level of technology available Why not check it out for yourself?

Check Your Hearing Online For Free

At HearingDirect, we have created our very own online hearing test so you can check your hearing for free in the comfort of your own home. If you believe you, a loved one, family member or friend could be suffering from an impairment, it is advisable to check.

All you will need is a few free minutes and some ear or headphones. Once the test is complete you will get your results instantly via email and based on the outcome of the test, you can decide whether to take further action.

Managing Hearing Loss

There are effective ways to manage sensorineural hearing loss and other forms of impairments.

Depending on your type of hearing loss, we can help. We supply a selection of items to help improve your quality of life.

  • Hearing aids are crucial to lifestyle satisfaction, helping those with losses enjoy the sounds they love.
  • Amplified phones are key to maintaining communication boasting extra loud ringers and added clarity.
  • Loud alarm clocks have been designed with the hard to wake and hard of hearing alike to really help kickstart your morning.
  • Assistive Listening Devices work by supplying amplified sound via a Bluetooth connection to headphones and some digital hearing aids.
  • Ear hygiene items will help you take better care of your ears and safely cleanse them without causing extra damage.

See also: Mild Hearing Loss | Conductive Hearing Loss

About Hearing Direct

We are one of the world's leading hearing aid specialists. HearingDirect offers a wide range of affordable products, as well as information resources to help improve the quality of life for the hard of hearing.

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Author: Joan McKechnie

Image of Joan McKechnieAfter qualifying as a Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist Joan has spent most of her 20 year career in hearing-care related roles. She has a wealth of experience within the hearing aid and hearing rehabilitation fields and has worked in manufacturing environments with two hearing aid companies helping to develop  products and roll out new technologies. Joan has been involved with Hearing Direct since its launch and enjoys the online retail environment which seeks to provide easier access to hearing products and accessories. She is HCPC registered. Read Joan's full bio here.

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