It is a mostly permanent change and cases can range from very mild to severe, affecting one or both ears. Many people find that it’s difficult to hear speech clearly, it can sound like people are mumbling in conversations, and it is much more noticeable in noisy places.
How common is sensorineural hearing loss?
This is probably the most common type of hearing loss, and most people who wear hearing aids will have sensorineural hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss causes
Sensorineural hearing loss can be split into two categories: congenital and acquired.
Congenital hearing loss is present at birth and can be inherited genetically or caused during development stages as a foetus.
Acquired hearing loss happens after birth and can be due to a variety of things. Most cases of sensorineural hearing loss are age-related, due to normal wear and tear as we get older. Other possible causes include:
- Prolonged exposure to loud noise
- Head or ear injury
- A side effect of certain medications
- Infections like measles, mumps, or meningitis
- Ménière’s disease
- Family history
Sensorineural hearing loss treatment
Treatment for sensorineural hearing loss will depend on the extent of your hearing loss and if both ears or just one ear is affected.
An audiologist will be able to recommend the best option for you, but the most common treatment is wearing hearing aids. If your hearing loss is more profound, the audiologist may refer you to a specialist to discuss the option of cochlear implants to help improve your hearing.
Prevention of sensorineural hearing loss
The good news is that sensorineural hearing loss can be prevented by wearing hearing protection to keep your ears from the damaging effects of longterm exposure to loud noises.
Learn more about safe hearing levels and exposure times as well as how you can protection your ears on our hearing protection page.
When to see a hearcare specialist
As it’s a gradual process, it might not become clear that your hearing has changed unless a loved one has pointed it out. Sensorineural hearing loss is diagnosed during a hearing test, so if you find that speech is harder to understand, or a loved one has pointed it out to you, you should see an audiologist for a comprehensive hearing check.
However, if you experience a very sudden hearing loss in one or both ears, you may have sudden hearing loss which should be treated as an emergency. We recommend that you seek medical advice as soon as possible if you experience a sudden drop in your hearing
Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by a number of things, but most cases are agerelated. Other causes can include noise exposure, certain infections, side effects of medication, family history, and injury to the head or ear.
Unfortunately, senorineural hearing loss caused by ageing and noise exposure results in a permanent change to your hearing. Although it cannot be reversed, it is possible to improve your hearing with hearing aids.
Not necessarily. Many people with sensorineural hearing loss would benefit from hearing aids, but it will depend on how your hearing loss is impacting your quality of life.