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What Causes Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

What Causes Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Have you noticed a decline in your ability to hear conversations, or maybe a persistent ringing in your ears? These symptoms can be unsettling and may point to a condition known as sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). 

At least 40 million Americans have hearing loss, and SNHL is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. 

Understanding its causes and the way the condition progresses is key for understanding its effects on your life and the ways you can manage your hearing loss.

At our four locations across Jacksonville, Florida, the board-certified ENT providers at Jacksonville ENT Surgery specialize in diagnosing and treating different hearing issues, including sensorineural hearing loss. 

Our team is committed to offering comprehensive care that helps you regain control over your hearing health. Keep reading to learn more about sensorineural hearing loss, the most common causes of this condition, and the ways we can help.

Understanding sensorineural hearing loss and its causes

Sensorineural hearing loss develops when there is damage to your inner ear (cochlea) or to the nerve pathways from your inner ear to your brain. 

Understanding these causes is essential for preventing or mitigating the effects of sensorineural hearing loss. The causes of SNHL can vary, but they typically include:

Presbycusis (aging)

Gradual hearing loss that occurs as we age is the most common cause of SNHL. This type of hearing loss results from the natural degeneration of auditory cells and nerve fibers in your cochlea over time. 

When this happens, it’s challenging to hear high-frequency sounds and understand speech in noisy environments.

Exposure to Loud Noise

Prolonged exposure to loud sounds can damage the hair cells in your inner ear, leading to noise-induced hearing loss. 

This type of damage can develop from a one-time exposure to an intense "impulse" sound, like an explosion, or from chronic exposure to loud noises, such as machinery at work or loud music.

Genetic Factors

Certain genes are responsible for the development and function of your inner ear structures. Mutations in these genes can lead to early onset of hearing loss or progressive deterioration of hearing ability.

Illnesses and Infections

Certain viral infections such as measles or mumps, and conditions like Meniere’s disease can contribute to the development of SNHL. 

These illnesses can affect the inner ear directly, causing inflammation and damage to the structures responsible for hearing.

Ototoxic Medications

Some medications are toxic to the sensory cells in the ears, including certain antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs. 

These ototoxic medications can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, especially when taken in high doses or for extended periods.

Unlike conductive hearing loss, which is often reversible and caused by obstructions or malfunctions in the outer or middle ear, SNHL is generally permanent. For this reason, it’s important to see a specialist as soon as you notice symptoms.

Symptoms and diagnosis of SNHL

Recognizing the symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss is key to seeking timely medical help. Common symptoms include:

If you notice any of these symptoms, don’t wait to schedule a comprehensive audiological evaluation. Ignoring symptoms of hearing loss can not only diminish your quality of life but also lead to social isolation and emotional distress.

Early diagnosis and intervention are key to effectively managing sensorineural hearing loss and preventing further auditory damage.

At  Jacksonville ENT surgery, we use advanced diagnostic tools, such as pure tone and speech testing, tympanometry, and otoacoustic emissions, to accurately assess and diagnose your hearing condition. 

How we help with sensorineural hearing loss

At Jacksonville ENT Surgery, we offer personalized hearing loss treatment plans tailored to each patient's specific needs. Treatment options for sensorineural hearing loss may include:

Don’t let hearing loss dictate your life. If you’re experiencing signs of sensorineural hearing loss, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with our experts at the Jacksonville ENT Surgery location most convenient for you.

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