The causes of SNHL are sorted in two categories – congenital or acquired.
Acquired Sensorineural Hearing Loss
In this case, hearing loss develops AFTER a person is born. Acquired SNHL usually develops later in life. Causes may include:
Aging – Also known as presbycusis, sensorineural hearing loss caused by aging affects 1 out of 3 Americans between the ages of 65-74. This type of hearing loss occurs gradually, over time, usually in both ears, making it difficult to notice in the early stages.
Noise – This is caused by either a one-time exposure to a loud noise, like a gunfire or explosion OR hearing loud sounds (85 dB and up) over an extended period.
If you find your ears ringing or asking people to repeat themselves often after attending a concert or being in the shooting range, your hearing health IS in danger.
Disease and infections -Viral infections, like mumps, meningitis or measles can cause sensorineural hearing loss.
Head or acoustic trauma – If you experience a blow to the head or are exposed to very loud noise (e.g explosion), your inner ear may become damaged, causing sensorineural hearing loss.
Tumors – People who have acoustic neuroma or cholesteatoma are at higher risk of developing sensorineural hearing loss.
Medications – There are more than 200 medications that are tagged as ototoxic, which can damage hearing health. Some antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and anti-inflammatory medications are known to cause permanent damage to hearing.
Congenital Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This type of sensorineural hearing loss usually develops or happens during pregnancy. If it’s any consolation, congenital SNHL is quite rare.
Maternal diabetes, prematurity, lack of oxygen during birth, infectious diseases passed from mother to child through the womb (e.g rubella) and genetics are known to cause congenital SNHL.
Fortunately, newborn screening is carried out after birth, so hearing loss is diagnosed and treated right away. Hearing aids and cochlear implants are the best interventions for this type of hearing loss, playing a big role in language development.