The most common type of permanent hearing loss is a condition called sensorineural hearing loss, or SNHL. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the inner ear is damaged or when communication between the inner ear nerve pathways and the brain are impaired.
Those who have sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty navigating everyday life due to their hearing struggles. SNHL can make it hard to hear soft sounds, and even louder sounds may be unclear. The symptoms of this condition can make navigating school, jobs, and personal relationships tricky.
There is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. Medications and surgery are not effective, but hearing aids can provide some resolution and make it easier to hear the world around you. Read on to learn more about SNHL causes and hearing loss support.
What Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss is a type of permanent hearing loss caused by inner ear damage. Your inner ear is an intricate system that receives vibrations and converts them into sounds your brain can identify. When cells within your inner ear are damaged, they cannot properly process vibrations, and the corresponding sound waves cannot be transmitted to the brain.
An issue with the auditory nerve can also cause SNHL. The inner ear contains the auditory nerve, which transmits sound signals to the brain. From there, the brain deciphers these signals through sensory input. When the auditory nerve is damaged, interrupting communication, your brain does not receive sound signals.
Causes and Risk Factors of SNHL
Various issues can lead to the development of sensorineural hearing loss. Anytime the inner ear is compromised, there is a risk for SNHL. The following are just some of the most common factors that can cause sensorineural hearing loss:
- Head injuries
- Ear injuries
- Frequent exposure to loud noises
- Underlying illnesses that impact the ear
- Medications that are toxic to hearing
Sensorineural hearing loss may also be genetic, with multiple members of one family all developing the condition. There is also a connection to the aging process, as many patients are diagnosed with SNHL as they get older.
While you cannot avoid genetic SNHL, you can decrease your likelihood of developing this condition by taking certain preventive measures. Wearing noise-canceling headphones and avoiding exposure to loud sounds can help keep your inner ear preserved longer.
Living With SNHL
Living with sensorineural hearing loss is incredibly difficult, as it can make navigating your daily life feel impossible. SNHL makes it hard to hear soft, nearby sounds, such as a casual conversation with friends or co-workers. It can also make loud and distinct noises sound muffled or unclear, making activities like driving complicated.
Getting an early diagnosis is the best way to make life with SNHL easier. Being diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss can help you get the intervention you need to effectively manage the condition.
Management Strategies for SNHL
Hearing loss management is the best way to improve your quality of life with SNHL. Medications and surgical intervention will not work for this condition, but hearing aids and cochlear implants can help. These devices amplify the sounds around you and make them more distinguishable.
Many people with SNHL also find that coping mechanisms and communication strategies are of great help. Learning how to navigate specific situations can make it easier for you to distinguish the sounds around you. For example, avoiding conversations in noisy, crowded places will make it easier to maintain personal relationships.
Seeking Professional Evaluation and Diagnosis
To effectively manage your SNHL and lead your best life, you should have a top-quality team of specialists to consult. At Happy Ears Hearing Center, our audiology experts can diagnose your sensorineural hearing loss and design a customized treatment plan that meets your needs.
The diagnostic process includes a combination of comprehensive exams and hearing tests to confirm your SNHL. From there, we will set you up with custom hearing devices that can alleviate your hearing loss and enhance your everyday life.
If you are looking for an SNHL diagnosis or treatment in the greater Phoenix area, contact Happy Ears Hearing Center today.