How is Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treated?

a woman with hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is one of the three types of hearing loss that hearing professionals regularly identify. It happens when there is a problem in the inner ear and is sometimes called nerve-related hearing loss. 

Sensorineural hearing loss has a range of causes. The most common is what hearing specialists sometimes call presbycusis – a condition related to the aging process. You can also get it if you listen to loud noises for an extended period, experience head trauma, get a virus that affects the nerve cells in the ear, or have a malformation of the inner ear for hereditary reasons.  Importantly, it is not the same as conductive hearing loss, which usually relates to problems with the eardrum, ear canal and middle ear. 

In this post, we’re going to take a look at how hearing health professionals treat different kinds of sensorineural hearing loss. Let’s take a look. 

Irreversible sensorineural hearing loss

Irreversible sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the nerves that transmit sounds from the inner ear to the brain become damaged to the point where current medical science cannot repair them. In these cases, the best approach is to use hearing aids to amplify incoming sounds to the point where the inner ear can process them and then send signals to the brain. 

In some cases of irreversible hearing loss, the level of hearing loss can be large enough that the patient needs a cochlear implant. These implants are a way of boosting the strength of signals that reach the brain, helping to improve overall hearing fidelity. 

Sensorineural hearing loss from disease

Some diseases, like multiple sclerosis, can damage auditory nerve cells. MS tricks the immune system into thinking that the lining of the body’s nerve cells is a foreign invader, leading to deterioration over time. MS medications, however, can counteract the action of the immune system and slow the progression of the disease. Thus, if your hearing loss is related to a pre-existing condition, your hearing health professional will ensure that you are following the correct medical protocol.

Some people experience fluctuating hearing loss. The most common cause of this is a condition called Meniere’s disease. Symptoms include vertigo, a constant ringing in the ears and progressive hearing loss. 

People with Meniere’s disease usually treat the condition by switching to a low-salt diet and taking corticosteroids. If these interventions are not sufficient to eliminate vertigo, some patients opt for surgery. 

Sensorineural hearing loss from head trauma or rapid changes in air pressure

Physical damage to the delicate machinery of the inner ear can affect its operation. A head injury during sports or a car accident, for instance, can disrupt the delicate balance of fluids and damage the structure of the cochlear. 

Rapid changes in air pressure, such as descending on an aircraft, can also cause sensorineural hearing loss by causing ear fluids to rupture and leak, damaging the surrounding structures. 

Hearing loss from trauma is a serious medical condition and often requires emergency surgery to correct.

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss

Many people can experience so-called sudden sensorineural hearing loss, sometimes abbreviated SSHL. Medical professionals believe that this type of hearing loss is viral in origin. 

Again, this type of hearing loss is a medical emergency. People with SSHL require corticosteroids to reduce swelling in the cochlear and other structures of the inner ear before it causes lasting damage.

Bilateral hearing loss

Bilateral hearing loss refers to progressive hearing loss in both ears that occurs over the period of several months, not years, as with general age-related hearing loss. 

Bilateral hearing loss often results from an autoimmune condition. Here, the body’s immune cells attack the delicate structures of the inner ear, believing them to be foreign invaders. Over a matter of weeks or months, the affected person can find themselves losing their ability to detect the sounds around them. Without medical intervention, they often lose hearing entirely. 

The current treatment for bilateral hearing loss is a combination of drug therapy and corticosteroids. The aim is to stop the immune system from accidentally attacking healthy cells. 

If you would like to find out more about how sensorineural hearing loss is treated, then get in touch with My Hearing Center. If you have hearing loss, you could benefit from hearing aids, devices that amplify incoming sounds to help you hear like you did before your hearing loss began.

Call us today in Palm Springs at 561-612-0138, Boynton Beach at 561-623-9060, West Palm Beach at 561-612-0231, Jensen Beach at 772-408-9559 or Jupiter at 561-935-6592 for a consultation.