Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is a result of damage to the frequency-specific hair cells in the inner ear, or to the nerve pathways which relay auditory information from the ear to the brain.  The aging process is the leading cause of SNHL as the nerve and sensory cells gradually die as we get older.  This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss and typically cannot be treated medically or surgically.  In most cases, the symptoms can be significantly minimized with hearing aids.

Signs/Symptoms may include:

  • Speech sounds muffled or unclear
  • Specific pitches are inaudible (most commonly high-pitches)
  • Perception of ringing/buzzing in ears
  • Own voice sounds soft, yet a tendency to raise your voice
  • Difficulty hearing when there are multiple speakers or while in background noise.

Aside from age, some possible causes are SNHL:

  • Head Injury
  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Viral infections, such as measles or mumps
  • Ototoxic drugs, which are medications that damage hearing
  • Meningitis
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • High fever
  • Meniere's disease
  • Acoustic tumors