What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss, or “nerve deafness”, is a very common type of hearing impairment. This happens when the hair cells in the inner ear (cochlea) that transmIt information to the brain become damaged. This can be caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises, aging, heredity, certain illnesses, or medications. Most of the time sensorineural hearing loss occurs very gradually over many years and can range from very mild to very severe. And remember, just because a hearing loss is “mild” doesn’t mean it can’t cause significant difficulty while talking with someone in a noisy restaurant!

Common symptoms of hearing loss include muffled hearing and a feeling that your ear is plugged. You may have difficulty understanding what people are saying, and you may listen to the television or radio at a higher volume than in the past. Many people with hearing loss state that they “can hear, but just can’t understand”. It’s important for you and your family members to understand that hearing loss doesn’t affect just loudness, but affects clarity as well. When hearing loss is severe you may find that you avoid conversation and interaction with other people for fear of misunderstanding. Another symptom of hearing loss may include ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus).

If you or your family notice any of these symptoms it’s important to have a thorough hearing evaluation by a licensed audiologist. Your audiologist will test your hearing and let you know what type and degree of hearing loss you have. In some cases, it may be recommended that you see an ear specialist, or ENT physician for treatment. In the case of sensorineural hearing loss your audiologist will counsel you on strategies to minimize the negative effects of distance and noise. If your hearing loss is severe enough, hearing aids may be recommended as the best treatment option for this type of hearing loss.

In the meantime, the best thing you can do is to wear hearing protection to prevent any further damage to your ears. Wear earmuffs or earplugs when noise is unavoidable, such as when mowing the lawn or using power tools. Avoid sticking cotton swabs or other objects deep into your ear. For more information or to set an appointment for a hearing evaluation with a licensed audiologist, please call Bartram Park ENT at (904) 446-9191 today.

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