Unlike conductive hearing loss, which affects the middle ear’s sound transmission, sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) affects the inner ear. Tiny hair cells, called cilia, vibrate in response to sound waves, sending signals from the hearing nerve to the brain. Damage to these hair cells, often from aging, noise exposure, or genetic factors, can lead to sensorineural hearing loss. Below we look to explore its causes, available treatments, common symptoms and the often-overlooked aspect of noise-induced hearing loss. Read on:

Symptoms of SNHL

  • Difficulty hearing faint sounds, especially high-pitched ones
  • Struggling to follow conversations in noisy environments
  • Tinnitus, a constant ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Feeling like your own voice sounds “off”
  • Struggling to hear with conversations on the phone
  • Withdrawing from conversations that are too difficult to understand

A hand-drawn style picture of a man's head showing how a cochlear implant works with an internal implant and external sound processor for individuals with sensorineural hearing loss. Degrees of Hearing Loss

Understanding your degree of hearing loss is important to determining the right treatment pathway. A hearing health professional will be able to help identify what degree of hearing loss you or a loved may have. The four degrees of hearing loss are:

  • Mild Hearing Loss
  • Moderate Hearing Loss
  • Severe Hearing Loss
  • Profound Hearing Loss

Hearing aids may be a good solution for someone with mild-to-moderate hearing loss, while cochlear implants may be a good solution for someone with severe-to-profound hearing loss. Read on to learn more about these solutions.

A picture of an older female cochlear implant recipient sitting at the dinner table with her family and smiling. A cochlear implant is a solution for sensorineural hearing loss for those who are qualified candidates. Causes and Treatments of SNHL

The causes of sensorineural hearing loss can vary, occurring rapidly or gradually over time.

Some common treatments for sensorineural hearing loss are:

  • Hearing aids: Hearing aids help those who have mild to severe hearing loss and have some remaining healthy sensory hair cells in the inner ear that can transmit sound to the brain using amplification.
  • Cochlear implantsCochlear implants help those with moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears who are not receiving enough benefit when using hearing aids. They are designed to help you get back the sounds you’ve been missing by giving you the clarity you need to hear better and understand speech, even in noisy situations.

A lineup showing each color option of the Nucleus 8 Sound Processor, a cochlear implant device designed for individuals with sensorineural hearing loss. If you or a loved one are experiencing sensorineural hearing loss, please utilize these additional resources below to learn about your hearing loss or find the nearest hearing clinic near you:

Jesse Griego
Jesse Griego is the Social Media Specialist at Cochlear Americas. Jesse finds inspiration daily in the resiliency of our recipients and their hearing journeys. Jesse was born and raised in Colorado and in his free time enjoys being a wrestling and lacrosse coach, playing guitar and being with his hound dog.