Whenever a sound wave strikes your ear, miniature nerve endings in your inner ear convert them into electric signals that your brain comprehends as sounds. Unfortunately, these nerve endings can be damaged, as can other components in your inner ear, leading to a condition known as sensorineural deafness.
Sensorineural hearing loss typically doesn’t lead to total deafness. The hearing loss is frequently limited to certain sounds and frequencies. Some sounds may seem too loud, while others may seem less distinct. Background noise frequently compounds the problem. Speech can be especially challenging to decipher in noisy environments. The person may have trouble when trying to follow a conversation with more than one person speaking and may find that women’s voices are harder to understand than men’s. People with sensorineural hearing loss may also find themselves feeling dizzy or experiencing tinnitus.
There are many different causes of sensorineural hearing loss. 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.
The reasons for sensorineural hearing loss later in life are much more diverse. One such cause is acoustic trauma, or exposure to an extremely loud noise. The damage can also accumulate from ongoing contact with loud noises. This reason for sensorineural hearing loss is quite common among musicians or construction workers.
Many people don’t realize that a virus can lead to sudden, sensorineural hearing loss. These infections include measles, meningitis and mumps. Meniere’s Disease, a syndrome that causes vertigo, tinnitus and hearing loss, can also lead to fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss. Both conditions can potentially be treated with corticosteroids.
Tumors can cause sensorineural hearing loss as can head traumas and rapid changes in air pressure. Other physical reasons for sensorineural hearing loss include the hereditary disorder otosclerosis where a bony growth in the inner ear interferes with hearing.
While sensorineural hearing loss can have a profoundly negative effect on your quality of life, there are treatments available.