Sensorineural Hearing Loss 

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What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) results from injury to the inner ear. Problems with the neural pathways from the inner ear to the brain can also cause SNHL. As a result, subtle sounds may be difficult to detect. Even the loudest sounds can be unclear or muted. SNHL is the most prevalent form of permanent hearing impairment.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss can affect one or both ears, depending on the underlying cause. If the emergence of your SNHL is gradual, your symptoms may not be apparent unless you get a hearing test. If you develop SNHL suddenly, your symptoms will appear within a few days. Many people experience sudden sensorineural hearing loss upon waking up.

Sensorineural hearing loss can result in the following:

  • Difficulty hearing in background noise
  • Balance problems
  • Trouble hearing high-frequency sounds
  • Tinnitus

Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss can be congenital, or it can be acquired. The following are possible SNHL causes:


Congenital hearing loss is one of the most frequent birth defects and is evident at birth. It affects between 1 and 3 infants every 1,000 births.


Presbycusis is another term for hearing loss associated with aging—almost one-third of those aged 65 to 74 experience hearing loss in the United States. By age 75, roughly half of the population has some form of hearing loss.

Loud noises

Being exposed to sounds over 85 dB can cause SNHL. Exposure to dangerously loud sounds, such as gunfire or explosions, can result in irreversible hearing loss.

Does sensorineural hearing loss get worse?

If genetic or age-related problems cause SNHL, it worsens over time. However, some other factors, such as exposure to a sudden loud noise or other conditions, induce hearing impairment. In that case, symptoms will typically plateau if the cause is avoided.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Diagnosis

The accurate diagnosis of sensorineural hearing loss requires multiple types of diagnostic procedures.

Physical exam

A physical examination can effectively distinguish between sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. In addition, the audiologist will look for swelling (possibly caused by infection), earwax impaction, fluid buildup, eardrum damage, and foreign objects.


If hearing loss is suspected, your healthcare provider will likely refer you to an audiologist for an audiometer test.

During the examination, you will wear headphones in a soundproof booth. Different volumes and frequencies of words and tones will be presented in each ear. The test helps to identify the softest audible sound and specific frequencies associated with hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treatment

There is currently no surgical treatment for treating sensorineural hearing loss. Cochlear implants and hearing aids are the most popular solutions for compensating for hearing loss. Hearing loss gene therapy is an increasing subject of study. However, it is not being utilized clinically for SNHL.

Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is a surgically implantable device used to treat severe SNHL. A cochlear implant consists of two components; a microphone worn behind the ear and an implanted receiver that transmits electrical information to the auditory nerve.

Hearing Aids

Advanced hearing aids can be tailored to certain types of hearing loss. For instance, if you have difficulty hearing noises with a high frequency, a hearing aid can assist you in isolating these sounds without harming other frequencies.

The Prognosis For Sensorineural Hearing Loss

The prognosis for individuals with SNHL is highly diverse based on the severity and source of hearing loss. However, SNHL is the most prevalent kind of permanent hearing impairment.

In sudden SNHL, the Hearing Loss Association of America estimates that 85 percent of patients will see at least a partial recovery if treated by an otolaryngologist. Approximately 32% to 66% of persons recover their hearing naturally within two weeks.

Sensorineural hearing loss is a normal component of the aging process for many individuals. However, loud noises can cause irreversible damage to the inner ear and auditory nerve. Applying the following practices will help you prevent noise-related ear damage:

  • Keep the volume on your headphones below 60 percent.
  • Wear earplugs when exposed to loud noises.
  • Perform routine hearing testing.
  • Be mindful of your medications. If you notice changes in your hearing after taking a new drug or medicine, consult your doctor immediately.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treatment | Rye, NY

Your hearing matters to us! Hearing loss is not the same for everyone and each specific type needs a different approach. At Audiology & Speech Solutions, we see to it that your specific hearing needs are met through accurate hearing testing and evaluations.

We provide personalized and integrated care for hearing, speech, language, listening, and learning difficulties. If you suspect that you or a loved one has sensorineural hearing loss, we can help. In cases of sudden sensorineural hearing loss, time is of the essence. Delaying treatment may lead to irreversible consequences.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

As audiologists and speech language pathologists, we focus on holistically treating all aspects of communication through diagnostics.