Sensorineural Hearing Loss-Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Sensorineural Hearing Loss-Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Damage to the tissues in your inner ear or the auditory nerve causes sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). It is responsible for more than 90% of adult hearing loss. Exposure to loud noises, genetic factors, and the natural aging process are all common causes of SNHL.

The cochlea, a spiraling organ inside the inner ear, contains tiny hairs known as stereocilia. These hairs transform sound wave vibrations into neural impulses that your auditory nerve sends to your brain. A reputable source can harm these hairs.

However, you may not notice the hearing loss until 30 to 50% of these hairs have been destroyed. 85 dB is roughly similar to hearing heavy traffic from inside a car.

Depending on the extent of injury, SNHL can range from mild to total hearing loss.

  • Mild hearing impairment. A hearing loss ranging from 26 to 40 dB.
  • Moderate hearing loss. Hearing loss ranges from 41 to 55 dB.
  • Hearing loss is severe. A hearing loss of greater than 71 dB.

SNHL is not a life-threatening disorder, but it can impair your ability to communicate if not treated appropriately. Continue reading to learn what causes SNHL, how to prevent it, and your treatment choices if you already have it.

Types of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Depending on the source, sensorineural hearing loss can affect one or both ears.

Bilateral sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss on both sides. SNHL in both ears can be caused by genetics, exposure to loud sounds, and infections such as measles.

Unilateral sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss on one side. If SNHL is caused by a tumor, Meniere’s disease, or a sudden loud noise in one ear, it may only affect one ear.

Asymmetrical sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is asymmetric. When there is hearing loss on both sides, but one side is worse than the other, this is asymmetrical SNHL.


Sensorineural hearing loss is commonly caused by:

  • Aging
  • Noise
  • Certain sorts of illnesses
  • The genetic code (inherited)
  • Pregnancy and Rubella
  • Too low Birth weight
  • Head and ear injuries

However, sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by a variety of other factors.

One of the most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss is aging. Everyone loses part of the microscopic hair cells in their cochlea throughout life, causing their hearing to become less precise. This is a regular aspect of the aging process. An age-related hearing loss, also known as Presbyacusis, is a sensorineural hearing loss induced by aging.

Excessive loudness, on the other hand, can harm the hair cells. Sensorineural hearing impairment is becoming more widespread due to extended exposure to high-intensity noise, such as in the workplace or while listening to loud music.

Sensorineural hearing loss can also occur if you have been exposed to infections such as mumps, meningitis, multiple sclerosis, Ménières disease, or if you have used specific treatments, specifically aspirin cisplatin, quinine, or the antibiotics streptomycin and gentamicin.

Sensorineural hearing loss may also occur if your mother had rubella (German measles) during pregnancy or if you were born with low birth weight. Sensorineural hearing loss can be inherited (genetic hearing loss), and you may also lose your hearing ability due to a head/ear injury.

A sensorineural hearing loss is classified into two types: ski-slope hearing loss and cookie-bite hearing loss. A ski slope hearing loss predominantly affects the high frequencies, whereas a cookie bite hearing loss primarily affects the mid-frequencies.

Asymmetric sensorineural hearing loss occurs when you have a sensorineural hearing loss in both ears (bilateral sensorineural hearing loss). There is a significant variation in the hearing loss between the ears.


Depending on the cause, SNHL can affect one or both ears. If your SNHL develops gradually, your symptoms may be difficult to detect without a hearing test. If you have abrupt SNHL, your symptoms will appear within a few days. Many people first detect sudden SNHL when they wake up.

Sensorineural hearing loss can result in the following:

  • Difficulty hearing noises in the presence of background noise, especially problems interpreting children’s and female voices
  • Dizziness or balance issues
  • Difficulty hearing high-pitched noises
  • Sounds and speech appear muffled, as though you can hear but not understand them.
  • Tinnitus (ringing in your ears)


There is currently no surgical treatment option for SNHL. To compensate for hearing loss, the most popular options are hearing aids and cochlear implants. Gene therapy for hearing loss is a growing area of study. However, it is not currently being utilized in clinical trials for SNHL.

Assistive Listening Devices

Modern hearing aids can be programmed to match individual hearing loss symptoms. For example, if you have difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds, a hearing aid can assist you in dialing in these sounds without harming other frequencies.

Surgically Implanted Cochlear

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device that can aid with severe SNHL. A cochlear implant consists of a microphone worn behind the ear and a receiver inside the ear that provides electrical information to the auditory nerve. Some of the top ENT Specialists in Lahore have been successfully doing this and provide booking via their website or their mobile app.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

1-What is an example of sensorineural hearing loss?

Viruses like measles and meningitis can induce sensorineural hearing loss. Head or ear trauma: A blow to the head or exposure to deafening noises, such as an explosion, can cause inner ear damage.

2-What is the most effective method of treating sensorineural hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss is currently treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants, which function with a person’s residual sense of hearing about augmenting sounds.

3-Is hearing loss a sudden occurrence?

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), often known as sudden deafness, is a hearing loss that occurs suddenly. It happens when you lose your hearing quickly, usually only in one ear. It can occur in an instant or over several days. The sound eventually becomes muted or dim throughout this time.