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Hearing Issues: Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Doug Breaker

Last updated on Sep 5, 2019

‘Hearing Issues’ is an ongoing series where the MDHearingAid team goes in-depth on specific ear problems, hearing issues, and hearing aid terminology. We believe knowledge is power, and our aim is to help all our customers better understand their own hearing health. This time, the topic is sensorineural hearing loss.

What is sensorineural hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss happens when there is damage to the hair cells in your inner earThis damage can come from many different sources, including natural aging. It doesn’t necessarily happen because of one singular incident, and the gradual loss of hearing means the issue is often ignored until it gets much worse.

Unlike conductive hearing loss (where something is blocking the sound from reaching the healthy auditory nerve) that can usually be reversed, sensorineural hearing loss is almost always permanent.

What causes sensorineural hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss often develops in adults later in life, although it can start at any age. Kids can have this kind of hearing loss, and it also be present in infants at birth due to genetic complications or certain serious infections during pregnancy. That said, the older you get, the more likely you’ll start to lose your hearing though these causes:

  • Aging
  • Prolonged noise exposure
  • Sudden impulse noise exposure
  • Serious infections (like meningitis, measles, and mumps)
  • Physical injury to the ears or head
  • Certain prescriptions and NSAIDs

What are some symptoms to look for?

Because of how gradual the decline can be, you might not notice right away if a loved one has this kind of hearing loss. Too often, family members will wave off strange moments, assuming grandpa is just not paying attention when they asked him a question. And because untreated hearing loss can deteriorate communication skills, these moments will just get worse. It’s important that you pay attention to your older loved ones so sensorineural hearing loss can be caught early.

Here are the big red flags to look for:

  • Trouble keeping up with group conversations
  • Swears everyone around them is mumbling
  • Struggles to hear high-pitched voices (including women and children)
  • Ringing in their ears (also known as tinnitus)
  • Dizziness and problems with balance

It’s important to note that this kind of hearing loss could appear to favor one ear over the other. If your loved one says it’s not that bad because they can hear fine with their left ear, you should absolutely still encourage them to get their hearing tested.

sensorineural hearing loss

How Mixed Hearing Loss Complicates Things

Did you know you can have senorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss at the same time? This is called mixed hearing loss. For instance, you’ve had age-related hearing loss in both ears for a few years, but unbeknownst to you, your left ear has developed a bony lesion. Ignoring it and assuming your left ear issues are just part of your “regular” hearing loss could lead to more health complications and make your left hearing aid less effective.

This is why it’s a good idea to go to an ear, nose, and throat doctor or audiologist when there’s any sudden change in your hearing. During your examination, they’ll be able to see if there are multiple issues to tackle in your hearing loss and give you the best recommendations to treat each issue.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treatments

Like with other forms of hearing loss, treatment can vary depending on your specific situation. That said, hearing aids are the most common treatment recommendation for people diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss.

Along with helping you hear better in general, hearing aids take away that mental strain of trying to focus on your friend’s voice or the dialogue on the TV. They can help you be more aware of your surroundings, which is crucial during emergencies. And where there’s no cure for this type of hearing loss, hearing aids can help you maintain the hearing you still have. It’s really a smart investment towards your overall quality of life both now and in the future!

Affordable Hearing Aids Online

One of the biggest reasons people put off buying hearing aids is because they can be very expensive, especially if you buy them through the hearing clinic with their many mark-ups. Most people just don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on hearing aids. Luckily, there are affordable, high-quality hearing aids thanks to online options like MDHearingAid. These hearing aids start at just $199 but are medical grade and doctor-designed, and fit everything from mild to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss.

Interested in starting a completely risk-free trial with MDHearingAid? Check out our different models for yourself.

Doug Breaker
Chief Executive Officer
Doug Breaker serves as CEO of MDHearingAid. Doug joined MDHearingAid after successful CEO roles at, and Doug's decades of experience... [ Learn More ]

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