What Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Published on Jul, 01, 2022

To best understand what sensorineural hearing loss is, it’s important to first understand how we perceive sound.

When sound waves reach your ears, they pass through your ear canal and cause your eardrum to vibrate. Your three inner ear bones register these vibrations and amplify them into your cochlea.

The vibrations reach this snail-shaped sound receptor and cause the fluid within to move microscopic hairs. The movement of these hair cells triggers neural signals to the brain. When the brain receives them, it interprets them, so we hear voices, music, and other noises for what they are.

Sensorineural hearing loss is the degradation of either the tiny hair cells or their neural transmitters or both. This most often occurs as a result of aging and is called presbycusis, which is the most common form of hearing loss. 

Overexposure to loud sounds, head trauma, genetic predisposition, and certain drug use can also result in sensorineural hearing loss.

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Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is a gradual decline. It’s important to know the symptoms so you are able to recognize them for what they are.

Difficulty Hearing Amid Ambient Noise

This is if you struggle to follow a conversation when you’re surrounded by other conversations and noises. This is most recognizable in a store, church, restaurant, or outdoor event.

Difficulty Hearing Processed Sounds

This issue comes up when you are trying to understand a phone conversation or announcements on a loudspeaker.

Difficulty Hearing Certain Tones

This is when you are unable to hear certain higher-pitched noises or other low pitch tones an example of this is when people mumble.



Tinnitus is when you hear a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears.

If you experience one or more of these sensorineural hearing loss symptoms, you should alert your doctor or seek out a hearing care professional. Also, you can take an online sensorineural hearing loss test.

Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treatable?

Certain types of sudden sensorineural hearing losses can be cured but it is important to seek medical help immediately. Currently, sensorineural hearing loss is treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants. Even with advancements in technology over the last decade, modern hearing aids cannot restore the sense of hearing to its normal state. Your audiologist can help you manage your loss, and it is advisable that you schedule an appointment quickly. Learn more about what to expect on the day of the hearing test here.

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Dealing with Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss may be common in older age, but you can still take steps to avoid it or minimize its effect. You can decrease your risk of hearing loss by avoiding prolonged exposure to loud sounds and using earplugs when such noises can’t be avoided.

Having diabetes increases your risk of hearing loss and can worsen sensorineural damage. Living a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and exercise will also protect your hearing as you enter your golden years

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