What Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form of hearing loss. It is the result of damage to your inner ear or your auditory nerve. SNHL is a permanent hearing loss, and in most cases medicine or surgery will not fix it. Your ability to hear may be improved with the use of hearing aids, or in some cases a cochlear device.
Some of the more common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:
- The natural aging process
- Exposure to loud noises
Less common causes of SNHL include:
- Viral infections such as mumps, meningitis, measles or scarlet fever.
What Is The Difference Between Conductive And Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can occur primarily in two different ways, which is why it is divided into conductive and sensorineural. However, in every single case, it negatively impacts human life and brings unpleasant consequences on many levels of life. How does conductive and sensorineural hearing loss occur, and how are they different?
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Types Of Hearing Loss
A hearing loss can happen when any part of the ear or auditory system is not working in the usual way.
Outer EarThe outer ear is made up of:
- the part we see on the sides of our heads, known as pinna
- the ear canal
- the eardrum, sometimes called the tympanic membrane, which separates the outer and middle ear
Middle EarThe middle ear is made up of:
- the eardrum
- three small bones called ossicles that send the movement of the eardrum to the inner ear
Inner EarThe inner ear is made up of:
- the snail shaped organ for hearing known as the cochlea
- the semicircular canals that help with balance
- the nerves that go to the brain
Auditory NerveThis nerve sends sound information from the ear to the brain.
Auditory SystemThe auditory pathway processes sound information as it travels from the ear to the brain so that our brain pathways are part of our hearing.
There are four types of hearing loss:
- Conductive Hearing LossHearing loss caused by something that stops sounds from getting through the outer or middle ear. This type of hearing loss can often be treated with medicine or surgery.
- Sensorineural Hearing LossHearing loss that occurs when there is a problem in the way the inner ear or hearing nerve works.
- Mixed Hearing LossHearing loss that includes both a conductive and a sensorineural hearing loss.
The degree of hearing loss can range from mild to profound:
- Mild Hearing LossA person with a mild hearing loss may hear some speech sounds but soft sounds are hard to hear.
How Can Sensorineural Hearing Loss Be Treated
There are a variety of ways that sensorineural hearing loss can be treated. Many people who have a hearing loss due to age improve with the use of well-fitted hearing aids. In more serious cases, a cochlear implant can be a great choice. This surgically-implanted device directly bypasses the damaged receptors and stimulates the hearing nerve so sound can be transmitted to the brain.
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How The Ear And Hearing System Works
To better understand different types of hearing loss its important to first understand how our hearing system works.
There are three major parts of the ear: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Sound waves travel through the outer ear and cause the eardrum to vibrate. The ear drum is connected to tiny bones in the middle ear. Therefore, when the eardrum vibrates due to sound waves striking it, the tiny bones start moving which causes parts of the liquid in the inner ear to move. These movements differ according to the loudness and pitch of the sound and are detected by the auditory nerve that carries this information to the brain. In the brain this information is processed so that we can recognise it as sound. In short, sound waves set parts of our hearing system into motion that eventually trigger electrical signals to be carried from the cochlear to the brain via the auditory nerve.
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Diagnosing Sensorineural Hearing Loss
In diagnosing Sensorineural Hearing Loss, a typical hearing examination, as described previously, should take place. Once the condition is determined to be Sensorineural versus Conductive Hearing Loss, one should take an additional follow-up exam to determine the amount of damage that has taken place.
As discussed previously, checking a patients medical history and comparing that with apparent symptoms will help with the proper diagnosis. Evaluate the patients history, duration of hearing loss, and the physical examination to evaluate the cause of SNHL best.
For example, in older patients with the normal tympanic membrane but who experience bilateral, gradual hearing loss, the result is most likely due to presbycusis, or aging.
A person who works around loud noises for a prolonged duration or in an environment with sudden loud noise should wear protective equipment to limit the impact on hearing, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has specific guidelines in place to protect hearing health.
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Conductive Vs Sensorineural Hearing Loss Test: Everything You Need To Know
If you are experiencing hearing loss symptoms, you may have heard your doctor mention that your hearing loss is either sensorineural or conductive. Because these two kinds of hearing loss have different causes and treatments, it is important to pinpoint which one is responsible for your symptoms. Doctors can choose from various hearing loss tests to distinguish between conductive and sensorineural hearing loss and gain crucial details about how your ears and brain are working together.
How Does The Weber Test Work
Beside this, what is a negative Weber test?
Unilateral Conductive Hearing LossWeber test lateralizes to the affected ear, in other words, it is heard louder in the poorer ear. Rinne test: Abnormal/negative on the affected ear normal/positive on the unaffected ear
Additionally, how do you test for sensorineural hearing loss? Weber’s test is performed by softly striking a 512-Hz tuning fork and placing it midline on the patient’s scalp, or on the forehead, nasal bones, or teeth. If the hearing loss is conductive, the sound will be heard best in the affected ear. If the loss is sensorineural, the sound will be heard best in the normal ear.
Similarly, you may ask, how does the Weber and Rinne test work?
A Rinne test evaluates hearing loss by comparing air conduction to bone conduction. A Weber test is another way to evaluate conductive and sensorineural hearing losses. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves are unable to pass through the middle ear to the inner ear.
Can bone conduction be worse than air conduction?
Normal individuals will hear the tone better by air conduction. In conductive hearing loss, bone conduction is greater than air conduction, because bone conduction bypasses problems in the external or middle ear.
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The State Of The Evidence For Treatments Of Hearing Impairment
Randomized trials have been performed on middle-ear surgery and on the provision of implantable hearing aids and cochlear implants. Poorer evidence is available from clinical trials on the pharmacotherapy of acute inner-ear disorders, in particular sudden sensorineural hearing loss. It can now be said that nearly every kind of permanent hearing loss is treatable.
Treatment Of Hearing Loss In Children
In addition to treatment of any cause and the provision of hearing aids Hearing aids Worldwide, about half a billion people have hearing loss . More than 10% of people in the US have some degree of hearing loss that compromises their… read more , children with hearing loss require support of language development with appropriate therapy. Because children must hear language to learn it spontaneously, most deaf children develop language only with special training, ideally beginning as soon as the hearing loss is identified . Deaf infants must be provided with a form of language input. For example, a visually based sign language can provide a foundation for later development of oral language if a cochlear implant Cochlear implants Worldwide, about half a billion people have hearing loss . More than 10% of people in the US have some degree of hearing loss that compromises their… read more is not available. However, for children, there is no substitute for access to the sounds of speech to enable them to integrate acoustic inputs and develop a refined and nuanced understanding of speech and language.
Children with unilateral deafness should be allowed to use a special system in the classroom, such as an FM auditory trainer. With these systems, the teacher speaks into a microphone that sends signals to a hearing aid in the childâs nonaffected ear, improving the childâs greatly impaired ability to hear speech against a noisy background.
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Conductive Hearing Loss On An Audiogram
The results of the hearing test are presented in an audiogram. The specific conductive hearing loss can be illustrated in the audiogram. The audiogram will show the degree of the hearing loss and which frequencies are affected by the conductive hearing loss by showing the hearing levels at different frequencies in both ears.
Read more on how to read an audiogram.
What Hearing Aid Is Best For Sensorineural Hearing Loss
The best hearing aids for sensorineural hearing loss will typically fall into two categories:
Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid: This is a hearing aid in which the bulk of the mechanics are worn around and behind the ear . BTE hearing aids are popular with children and those who suffer from severe hearing loss .
Inside-the-Ear Hearing Aid: Among adults who are diagnosed with minimal to moderate hearing loss, inside-the-ear hearing aids are popular because they are quite discrete. ITE hearing aids also cut down on wind noise transmitted to the wearer, which make them more reliable in outdoor settings.
There will be some who find little relief with either BTE or ITE hearing aids. In those cases, a cochlear implantwhich bypasses the stereocilia altogether and transmits sound directly to the auditory nervemight be the way to go.
The best hearing aid for someone with sensorineural hearing loss is going to be the one that most suits their individual needs, so youll probably want to make this decision in consultation with a trusted hearing professional.
Page medically reviewed by Kevin St. Clergy, Audiologist, on April 16, 2020.
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About Global Burden Of Disease
The Global Burden of Disease Study is a comprehensive regional and global research program of disease burden that assesses mortality and disability from major diseases.
Read more about the Global Burden of Disease Study here: or here:
If you think that you might have a genetic hearing loss, we recommend that you get your hearing checked by a hearing professional.
Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss Permanent
Yes, unfortunately a sensorineural hearing loss is permanent as the hair cell in the inner ear cannot be repaired or replaced. And regardless of whether it is a bilateral or unilateral hearing loss the hearing does not recover fully or partly over time or by itself. The hearing that is lost is lost permanently. An age-related hearing loss, for example, typically worsens over time.
Can a sensorineural hearing loss be cured? In most cases unfortunately not. A sensorineural hearing loss is normally treated with hearing aids or hearing implants. Certain types of sudden sensorineural hearing losses can in some cases be cured but here it is important to seek medical help immediately.
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Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss Curable
Lets cut to the chase a bit: sensorineural hearing loss is not a curable condition. Its natural to wonder if it isto hope and wish that it might bewhen you hear this diagnosis. There are treatments that can help you cope with sensorineural hearing loss and live your life in a full way, but theres no complete cure.
Conductive hearing loss is curable in many cases the obstruction is removed, and voila! But the causes of sensorineural hearing loss can be a bithairier, going well beyond a simple obstructive mass blocking the sounds.
When the tiny sound-sensing hairs in your ear, called stereocilia, suffer enough damage, they become incapable of detecting and transmitting sounds. There are no known therapies that can repair damaged stereocilia. Whats more, this damage tends to occur slowly and over time, making it difficult to spot early without making an intentional effort. But there are treatments available that can help you preserve your hearing, even if the hearing loss itself is not curable.
What Is The Difference Between Conductive Hearing Loss And Sensorineural Deafness
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear. This can be damage to the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear or damage to the auditory nerve itself which blocks or weakens the transfer of signals from the inner ear to the brain. This obviously, is a more serious problem than other types of auditory loss. In comparison, the latter means that sound is not reaching the inner ear, typically due to an obstruction or some type of trauma.
Causes of sensorineural loss can include heart diseases and diabetes, mumps, Menieres disease, drugs that are toxic to auditory health, genetic factors influencing the way the inner ear is formed, aging, severe head trauma, extended exposure to loud noises, explosions, cancerous growths in the inner ear, and traumatic injuries that damage the inner ear or the auditory nerve.
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Take Good Care Of Your Hearing
You need to take care of your hearing throughout your life, so you can not only minimize the risk of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss but also avoid it. First of all, it is worth doing preventive examinations, such as a basic hearing test or an audiogram test, which will show any abnormalities in the initial stages. Proper hygiene is also necessary, for example, not using cotton buds that push the earwax even deeper into the ear, using special protective headphones at high noise levels, and resting in silence so that the body has a chance to regenerate.
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Classifying Hearing Loss According To
2.3.1. Anatomy of the ear
The structure of the human ear. The external ear, especially the prominent auricle, focuses sound into the external auditory meatus. Alternating increases and decreases in air pressure vibrate the tympanum. These vibrations are conveyed across the air-filled middle ear by three tiny, linked bones: the malleus, the incus, and the stapes. Vibration of the stapes stimulates the cochlea, the hearing organ of the inner ear. (Source [ 3
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Central Auditory Processing Disorders:
Auditory Processing Disorders , also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder is the reduced or impaired ability to discriminate, recognize or comprehend complex sounds, such as those used in words, even though the persons hearing is normal. For example, understanding boat for coat or the not being able to discriminate the difference in sounds between sh and ch It is a complex problem that affects about 5% to 7% of school-aged children and it is twice as often diagnosed in boys than in girls.
Although it is difficult to understand, APD is not a problem with hearing per se. The problem lies in the hearing process. In children/adults with APD these electrical signals that come from the sound waves into the ear and are sent to the brain arrive with a delay or distortion, which makes learning and memorizing very difficult.
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Who Are Cochlear Implants Suitable For
Cochlear implants are suitable for individuals who are severely to profoundly deaf in both ears due to inner ear damage. Being young and having strong family support are additional factors that influence whether a cochlear implant is appropriate due to the period of rehabilitation/auditory training that is required following the surgical implantation procedure.
Auditory training is necessary to teach the individual to discriminate between sounds and interpret what theyre hearing.
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Differences Between Conductive Vs Sensorineural Hearing Loss
When signs of hearing loss begin to noticeable, it is normal to become concerned about what it might indicate. If anybody is becoming hard of hearing, find an audiologist to determine which type of hearing loss is occurring.
They help to identify the causes and appropriate treatments, its important to know about conductive vs. sensorineural hearing loss so that you can begin to understand and identify the problem.
What Are The Treatment Options For Conductive Hearing Loss
Is conductive hearing loss curable? Can a conductive hearing loss be treated? Yes, in most cases a conductive hearing loss can be either cured or treated.
The main treatments for conductive hearing loss are:
- Medical treatment
- Hearing instruments such as hearing aids or hearing implants such as e.g., bone conduction devices
Most cases of conductive hearing loss are temporary and are cured by means of appropriate medical treatments, so it is important to seek immediate medical assistance.
Other types of conductive hearing losses can be treated with hearing aids or types of hearing implants.
Finally, some types of conductive hearing loss can be treated through surgery.
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