woman with snhl smiling at husband

Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Causes, Symptoms & Your Options

Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL) 

Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL) is a type of hearing loss and it is permanent. With SNHL, higher pitched noises may sound muffled. It may also be difficult to pick out words against background noise. However, there are treatment options available.

Basic Sensorineural Hearing Loss Statistics

While there are over 48 million Americans with some form of hearing loss, SNHL in the most common type of hearing loss. It accounts for about 90% of reported hearing loss that can be categorized as mild, moderate, severe and profound. 

Although SNHL is permanent, that doesn’t mean there is nothing that someone can do about it.

What Causes Sensorineural Hearing Loss

To understand SNHL we need to first look at the ear itself. The ear has three main parts: the inner, the outer, and the middle ear. With SNHL, we see it frequently happen after inner ear damage. However, it can also be caused by problems with the nerve pathways from your inner ear to your brain.

Each nerve has about 30,000 hair cells that detect vibrations and send auditory signals to the brain for processing. These hair cells can have damage due to prolonged exposure to environmental noise, heredity, trauma, infection, drugs ETC.  

Some general causes of SNHL are:

  • The way the inner ear itself is formed
  • Prolonged exposure to loud noises
  • Illness
  • Drugs that are harmful to hearing (Ototoxic Medications)
  • Hereditary Causes
  • Aging
  • A blow to the head

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

With SNHL, there will be some hearing loss. Also, there can be ringing in the ears. Higher pitched tones can sound muffled, like spoken through a blanket. It can also be difficult to pick up and understand words when they are spoken with any degree of background noise.

It’s important to note that many people with SNHL will have to exert themselves to understand speech clearly, especially with background noise.

How to Treat Sensorineural Hearing Loss

The only effective solution is to wear quality hearing devices. These will amplify the regions of the of the hearing that need help. Modern Hearing Devices have noise reduction and clear sound. Additionally, they can be computer programmed to your specific needs. 

Hearing Aids for SNHL

Hearing aids can often help those suffering from mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss. When someone with SNHL is fit with hearing aids, not only will they hear better, but their natural ability to discriminate speech will improve remarkably. 

This is because wearing hearing aids stimulates the auditory nerve, which has been under-utilized all the years of living with hearing loss.  It’s like working out a muscle that hasn’t been worked out in a long time. Thus, conversation will be much easier to understand as cognitive abilities improve.

Who to Consult for Hearing Loss

In short, if you’re finding it difficult to hear, know that you aren’t alone and that there are options to improve your hearing.  At Beltone, we are Licensed Hearing Specialists and offer free consultations and hearing tests. There’s hope with hearing loss.