What is sensorineural hearing loss?

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Alexandra Tarvin, AuD - Doctor of Audiology in Greenville
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Sensorineural hearing loss is a reduced sensitivity to sound from damage, malfunction, or malformation in the sensory and/or neural auditory pathways. This can occur within the cochlea (organ of hearing) from damaged stereocilia, hair cell bodies, nerve connections, or the 8th cranial nerve itself. It is not necessarily nerve damage itself but this could play a role in causing the hearing loss.
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Duane Smelser, HIS - Hearing Healthcare Provider in Portland
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Quite simply, it is damaged hair cells (cillia) in the cochlea (inner ear).  The most common way this occurs is forceful sounds cause those hair cells to get whipped about so severely that they break or get damaged.  When this happens, it's like stalks of wheat after a tornado.  It takes far more force (aka volume) to get them to move again.  Hearing aids turn up the force/volume of the specific frequencies that are damaged so that the hair cells respond and send electrical signals to the sound centers of the brain allowing us to hear.

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Melissa McFadden, MSc - Hearing Healthcare Provider in Oakville
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Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. More than 90% of all hearing aid wearers have sensorineural hearing loss, resulting from problems in the inner ear or the auditory nerve.  Hair cell damage in the inner ear is the most common reason for sensorineural hearing loss.  These tiny hair cells, once damaged or destroyed, become unable to convert sound vibrations into the electrical signals needed by the hearing nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss is very commonly age-related (meaning we tend to lose our hearing as we get older), but can also result from noise exposure, head trauma, cancer treatments, and from the use of certain medications.

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Sheri Gostomelsky, AuD - Doctor of Audiology in Deerfield
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Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss in adults. It is a result of damage to the hearing nerve and is irreversible. Treatment for most sensorineural loss is accomplished by the fitting of hearing aids.
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Michelle Colburn, AuD - Doctor of Audiology in West Hartford
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Sensorineural hearing loss is damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or hearing nerve.  This damage can be a result of many factors like aging, noise exposure, certain medications, disorders that affect circulation (heart disease, diabetes, smoking) or genetics.  Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be medically corrected or reversed.  Hearing aids can help improve communication for most people with sensorineural hearing loss by amplifying the pitches of sounds that they are missing.  If a person's hearing loss is too severe a cochlear implant might be a better option to help improve hearing.

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Ellen Nathan, MA - Hearing Healthcare Provider in Glendale
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There are Four types of hearing loss.  

Sensorineural hearing loss means that there is nerve damage in the cochlea. This is where the hair cells slowly die off, and can no longer send a signal to the brain.

Conductive loss means that the loss is occuring before the cochlea.  Typically it is in the middle ear, like a tumor, or problems with the osticular chain (3 bones in the ear)

Mixed hearing loss is the combination of both sensorineural and conductive loss

Central loss is rare and occurs in the brain.

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