Sensorineural hearing loss

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What is sensorineural hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common of the three types of hearing loss (the other two being conductive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss).

This type of hearing loss means that the tiny hair cells in the inner ear or the auditory nerve (responsible for carrying sound to the brain) are damaged. It's usually caused by either the natural ageing process or by exposure to loud sounds.

Hearing loss types

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Book a free test for sensorineural hearing loss

Book a free hearing test to find out if you have sensorineural or any other kind of hearing loss. We can help you understand your condition better and suggest treatment options.
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What causes sensorineural hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss happens when there's damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear or the auditory nerve. The reasons behind this include:

  • Ageing – Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is the most common form of sensorineural hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud sounds, such as a one-time explosion or continuous exposure to loud sounds over time
  • Certain drugs and medications
  • Genetics or complications during birth and pregnancy

What is sudden sensorineural hearing loss?

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) – known as sudden deafness – involves an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing all at once or over a couple of days. It almost always occurs just in one ear.

If you experience sudden hearing loss, call your GP or seek medical advice immediately.

6 common signs of sensorinerual hearing loss

It can be difficult to identify the signs and symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss. Below are six common signs to look out for:

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1. Difficulty following group conversations (especially when there's background noise)
Image shows a woman struggling to hear conversation in a restaurant due to age related hearing loss
2. Trouble understanding speech in noisy surroundings (e.g. in restaurants)
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3. Difficulty understanding what people are saying on the phone
Image shows a woman struggling to keep up with a conversation because of untreated hearing loss
4. Sounds seem unclear or people sound like they're mumbling
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5. Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds
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6. Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
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How is sensorineural hearing loss treated?

Sensorineural hearing loss can often be treated with hearing aids. These come in many different styles, with plenty of options to suit your needs and preferences.

It's important to get treatment for sensorineural hearing loss as soon as possible. Leaving hearing loss untreated can have negatively affect your well-being. For example, it can decrease your quality of life and cause loneliness.

Book an appointment Hearing loss treatment

Prevent hearing loss before it impacts you or a loved one

Even if you don't currently have symptoms of hearing loss, you can still be proactive in preventing it. Using hearing protection, such as ear plugs, moulds or defenders, is one effective way to prevent hearing loss. This will help to protect your ears from sounds like:

  • Garden tools, e.g. lawnmowers and leaf blowers
  • Woodworking machinery
  • Loud appliances
  • Work-related exposure, including factories and construction sites
  • Snowmobiles
  • Music

Excessively loud, everyday sounds, both at home and at work, can pose a risk to your hearing health. So it's a good idea to invest in hearing protection if you expect to be exposed to loud noise. Avoiding loud sounds can benefit your long-term hearing health.

Hearing loss

Gordon Bruce
Gordon Bruce, Dispensing Audiologist

Gordon Bruce has been a qualified dispensing audiologist for over 20 years. He initially carried out domiciliary visits, and for the last ten years or so has been the lead dispensing audiologist in Hidden Hearing's Glasgow clinic, one of the busiest within Hidden Hearing's UK network. As well as helping people to hear to the best possible standard, Gordon has also undertaken a variety of coaching and supervisory roles over the years, helping to develop trainees within the dispensing profession.