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Unraveling Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Causes & Treatment Options

An older Michigan couple sitting in a park but struggling to hear each other because of their hearing loss.
– 6 minute read

Sensorineural Hearing Loss & Your Treatment Options in Michigan 

The two main types of hearing loss among patients are conductive (problems delivering sound to the inner ear) and sensorineural (problems with your auditory system that are typically permanent). When the hair cells in the cochlear or auditory nerve are damaged, sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) can occur. The most common causes of SNHL among children include abnormalities in the inner ear, genetic variations, jaundice, and viral infections passed from the mother during pregnancy. Among adults, SNHL is often caused by the natural aging process, exposure to loud noises, head trauma, and other conditions. 

Below, the experts at Hear Michigan Centers have included some important information about SNHL, its causes, and the treatment options available for patients. Our hearing care providers work diligently to help patients hear the world around them more clearly by developing an individualized treatment plan that works for their type and degree of hearing loss. Contact us today to learn more about SNHL or schedule an appointment for a one-on-one consultation at one of our hearing care centers in Michigan.  

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Signs 

Hearing loss symptoms vary from patient to patient, but some of the most common symptoms of SNHL can include:

  • Speech sounds muffled when people are talking
  • You can’t understand what people are saying or ask them to repeat themselves often
  • You’ve noticed a steady decline in your ability to hear
  • Phone conversations are frustrating because of your inability to hear clearly
  • You hear a constant buzzing, ringing, or whooshing sound in your ears
  • You feel dizzy or can’t balance well

What Causes SNHL?

SNHL occurs when there is damage to tiny hair cells in the auditory nerve or cochlear. Sound reaches the cochlea, but damaged hair cells can’t convert the sound waves into the electrical signals that travel through the auditory nerve to the brain. Auditory nerve abnormalities can also cause SNHL. Other causes can include the following: 

  • Sudden Hearing Loss — This type of SNHL could be caused by a virus or other type of medical condition that should be examined by an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist for urgent treatment that could help recover some of your ability to hear.
  • Aging — This is the most common form of SNHL and is usually gradual. It cannot be reversed or cured but can be improved with hearing aids.
  • Acoustic Trauma — Noise-induced hearing loss is a common form of SNHL, but it can be prevented by wearing hearing protection custom fit by a hearing care provider.
  • Head Trauma & Abrupt Air Pressure Changes — Any type of sudden change in atmospheric pressure or experiencing head trauma can cause the space that contains your inner ear fluid to rupture, resulting in SNHL.
  • Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease — This disease causes your immune system to attack the inner ear and cause progressive hearing loss.
  • Ménière’s Disease — This condition can cause fluctuating hearing loss, ear fullness, dizziness, or ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
  • Central Nervous Disease — Any damage caused by a condition such as multiple sclerosis can cause SNHL.
  • Cochlear Otosclerosis — This condition is characterized by abnormal bone growth in the inner ear, causing SNHL.
  • Congenital Inner Ear Malformation — These include genetic or environmental abnormalities, which are common causes of SNHL among children.
  • Benign Tumor — Noncancerous tumors on the adjacent balance nerve can compress the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain and cause SNHL.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

Anyone experiencing hearing loss should schedule a consultation with a hearing care provider to ensure they’re accurately diagnosed and put on a proper treatment plan. A critical part of your visit will be a comprehensive hearing test performed by a hearing care provider to determine the cause, type, and degree of your hearing loss. Your treatment plan will be based on your needs, lifestyle, and specific degree of hearing loss. It can include the following: 

  • Ongoing care with regular hearing evaluations 
  • Corticosteroid injections can be used to reduce cochlear hair cell swelling and inflammation due to exposure to loud noises
  • A healthy diet (low sodium)
  • Evaluation and fitting for custom-prescribed hearing aids or other assistive listening devices
  • Surgery to correct the underlying cause of your hearing loss
  • Surgery to implant an assistive hearing device

Depending on your hearing test results and lifestyle, your hearing care provider will help you decide which device will be most suitable.

Questions to Ask Your Health Care Provider

When you visit your hearing care provider to address your SNHL symptoms, it’s important to remember some things. We’ve included some questions that might be helpful to ask during your one-on-one consultation: 

  1. What is the cause of my hearing loss?
  2. Will my hearing loss progress or worsen over time?
  3. What treatment options are available for my type and degree of hearing loss?
  4. What are the risks of the surgery you recommend to treat my hearing loss?

Contact Hear Michigan Centers for Hearing Loss Treatment Today

Hear Michigan Centers understands the importance of addressing and treating hearing loss. If you’re experiencing any signs of any type of hearing loss, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with our team for a comprehensive hearing evaluation. As a leading hearing care service provider for patients throughout Michigan, you can count on us to deliver the high-quality care you deserve. From the moment you walk through the doors of our hearing care centers, we make it easy to get individualized, expert care. Contact us today to learn more about SNHL treatment options, or schedule an appointment to get started.

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