The many tiny nerve endings in your inner ear are essential to your hearing. If these nerve endings are damaged, or if damage happens in other regions of the inner ear, sensorineural hearing loss can result.

In most cases, sensorineural hearing loss does not lead to a complete inability to hear. The hearing loss is frequently limited to particular sounds and frequencies. Some sounds may seem too loud, while others can seem a lot less distinctive. Discerning speech patterns becomes particularly difficult, in particular when listening in a noisy location. Men’s voices often sound clearer than higher-pitched women’s voices and tracking conversations with several speakers is particularly difficult. Additional symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss are feelings of dizziness or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

There are many different causes of sensorineural deafness. Sometimes this form of hearing loss exists since birth. The hearing loss may have an underlying genetic cause. It can also arise from certain infections which can be passed from mother to child.

Sensorineural hearing loss that starts later life can have many different root causes. One such cause is acoustic trauma, or exposure to an excessively loud noise. Similarly, long term exposure to loud noise (typical of construction workers and musicians) can cause inner ear damage.

Sensorineural hearing loss can come on suddenly, such as in the case of viral infections. Viruses such as meningitis, mumps and measles can all lead to this issue. Equally problematic is Meniere’s Disease, which can lead to fluctuating hearing loss as well as tinnitus and vertigo. Both conditions can potentially be treated with corticosteroids.

Abrupt changes in air pressure and head trauma can cause sensorineural hearing loss, as can other physical issues such as tumors. 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.

There is no doubt that sensorineural hearing loss can drastically decrease your quality of life, but there are ways to deal with it.

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