Our ear is made up of: the outer, middle and inner parts. Sensorineural hearing loss is experienced when there is an issue with the inner ear parts.
The most prevalent kind of continuing permanent hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss.
What Is Defined As Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss (also know as SNHL) happens when there is an inner ear damage or damage caused in the inner ear structure. The damage is more specifically done to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. The small hair cells helps to transmit sound from the inner ear to the brain via the hearing nerve.
SNHL can also be caused by a problem with the nerve pathways from your inner ear to your brain. Loud noises may either be unclear or sound muffled, even louder sounds, and it might be difficult to hear soft sounds.
While many types of sensorineural hearing loss are irreversible, certain rare situations may induce sensorineural hearing losses to improve on their own.
Some Possible Causes Of This Type Of Hearing Loss Include:
This type of hearing loss can be caused by the following things:
- Genetics – hearing loss that runs in the family
- A serious blow received to the head
- A problem in the way the inner is formed at birth
- Illnesses (meningitis, mumps, cytomegalovirus, etc.)
- Drugs that are causing damage to hearing
- Environmental causes: constant exposure to loud noises that might damage the inner ear nerves
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Prevention
Sensorineural hearing loss is mostly preventable especially if there is no hearing loss at birth.
Here are some tips on how you can protect against sensorineural hearing loss:
- Use ear protection items: If you are aware that you are constantly exposed to loud noises in your workplace, you should talk to your employer about a hearing protection program. You can also get your own ear protection gear: i.e. earplugs.
- Be aware: Other than workplace awareness, be aware of your environment. If you are attending a live concert that have loud music, it’ll be helpful to have an earplug on standby.
- Employ the 60/40 rule: if you are listening to a music player, keep your engagement to a maximum of 40 minutes, and limit the maximum volume to 60 percent.
Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants:
Sensorineural hearing loss is typically treated with prescription hearing aids or cochlear implant.
Cochlear implant (surgically implanted) helps by replacing damaged sensory hair cells inside the inner ear. A cochlear implant is a device that converts sound waves to electrical signals and delivers them through electrodes placed in the cochlea. The transmitter transmits sound signals to a receiver and stimulator implanted under the skin, which stimulates the auditory nerve with electrodes that have been inserted into the cochlea.
Prescription hearing aids on the other hand help to amplify sound going into the ear for your inner ear to receive the sound. The amplified sound is directly sent to the inner ear for conversion into electrical impulses, which are then transmitted to the brain by the auditory nerve.
Medicine and Surgery:
There is no best medicine for hearing loss related to noise exposure. For sudden hearing loss, steroids medications (e.g. corticosteroids) are the medicine of choice.
Corticosteroids has the ability to reduce inflammation and oedema (swelling) in the hearing organs, but it does not help to cure sensorineural hearing loss.
Trauma to the head, as well as rapid changes in air pressure (e.g., airplane descent), can cause inner ear fluid compartment rupture or leakage, which can be harmful to the inner ear. When this happens, emergency surgery has had varying degrees of success. All in all, you should consult an ENT specialist or audiologist in Singapore to help you with that.