What is sensorineural hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by problems in the inner ear or auditory nerve – the nerve that carries sound from the inner ear to the brain. 

Often sensorineural hearing loss is gradual, and people with this type of hearing loss may not notice they are experiencing it until it starts to affect speech recognition and communication, typically in noisy restaurants or other social situations. 

Causes of sensorineural hearing loss

The most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss is aging. As we get older, the small hairs in our inner ear become damaged, and are less able to transmit sound.

Causes include:

  • Aging; after age 65, one out of three people has hearing loss
  • Disease, such as mumps, meningitis or multiple sclerosis
  • Excessive noise, often from work or listening to loud music
  • Head trauma
  • Birth condition, often if the mother experienced rubella (German measles) when pregnant
Couple fishing and having a nice time together.

Treatment of sensorineural hearing loss

Most sensorineural hearing loss is treated with amplification, although people with very profound hearing loss sometimes need a cochlear implant, which replaces the function of the damaged inner ear.
 
People with sensorineural hearing loss usually cannot regain normal hearing, but they can be helped with the technology found in hearing aids.
 
Man wearing ReSound LiNX² RIE hearing aids.
Hearing care professional testing a patient's hearing.