Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is NOT only about losing hearing. Well, that’s obviously a given but, let’s delve in deeper and talk about the most common type of hearing loss – sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL).  There are three main types of hearing loss – sensorineural, conductive and mixed.   Sensorineural hearing loss affects 9 out of 10 people with hearing loss. It can range from mild, moderate, severe or profound.


Sensorineural Hearing Loss Categories

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. 

Questions about  Sensorineural Hearing Loss

What is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss?

The most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss is damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear OR damage to the nerve pathways that line the inner ear to the brain. There are other causes of sensorineural hearing loss – more on that later. Once you develop sensorineural hearing loss, you will have to live with it for the rest of your life.

How does sensorineural hearing loss affect hearing?

SNHL affects the clarity and loudness of sounds. Other times, you may notice that normal sounds are too soft while loud sounds are too loud.

In short, sensorineural hearing loss affects ALL ranges of hearing. Keep in mind though, that if you have age-related hearing loss, it’s just normal to experience high-frequency hearing loss, which reduces your ability to hear high-pitched sounds.

Imagine hearing something but having a hard time understanding what you hear – that is sensorineural hearing loss in a sense. This commonly happens when there is loud background noise, making the hearing experience exhausting and frustrating.

If you or a family member is experiencing sensorineural hearing loss symptoms, see an audiologist. If you are in Osseo, MN, Hearing Health Clinic offers treatments and interventions for sensorineural hearing loss, on top of other hearing-related services.

What is the best treatment for sensorineural hearing loss?

The customary treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is hearing aids. Before you go shopping online and add to cart the cheapest hearing aid you can find, you need to know that SNHL doesn’t work with ANY hearing aids. 

Sensorineural hearing loss is best treated with hearing aids that are PROGRAMMED to your unique hearing loss. You need to understand that making sounds louder won’t make you hear better. You’ll end up hearing loud, distorted sounds, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?

In treating sensorineural hearing loss, proper hearing aid testing and fitting is critical.

If hearing loss is already SEVERE or PROFOUND, a cochlear implant is a great option. An audiologist would know what’s best for you, so don’t hesitate to see one.

Can sensorineural hearing loss be corrected?

Sensorineural hearing loss, put simply, is caused by the damage of inner ear hair cells. Also called nerve deafness, SNHL is the most common type of hearing loss.

Unfortunately, sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and the damages are irreversible. Not even surgery can repair the sensory hair cells BUT there is a surgery that can bypass the damaged cells, facilitating better hearing.

What if hearing aids can’t improve sensorineural hearing loss?

If you’ve already tried hearing aids but still don’t enjoy any improvement, the next best thing would be cochlear implants.  Cochlear implants can help adults and children whose hearing loss are not alleviated by hearing aids. Patients with severe to profound hearing loss may consider cochlear implants.

While hearing aids offer a traditional manner of amplifying sounds, cochlear implants bypass the damaged part of the auditory system and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.  Before proceeding with cochlear implant surgery, you need to undergo medical evaluation. This medical evaluation includes checking the anatomy of your ear, the integrity of your auditory system and an overall physical exam.

Depending on the result of the evaluation, most surgeons will not perform cochlear implant surgery until it has already been established that hearing aids were not a success. Take note that cochlear implant surgery is invasive, so it is usually considered as the last resort for severely-hearing impaired patients. If you are considering cochlear implants, Hearing Health Clinic can help you through the process. Whether you are dealing with sensorineural hearing loss, or any kind of hearing-related concerns, we are just a call or visit away to better hearing.

What Causes Auditory Processing Disorder?

As of writing, there are still no known causes of auditory processing disorder. However, medical experts are getting warmer, identifying some links that may cause APD such as:

Specific illnesses – auditory processing disorder is more likely to happen to a person who has chronic ear infections, lead poisoning or meningitis. People with issues in the nervous system such as multiple sclerosis are also prone to develop auditory processing disorders.

 • Head injury

 • Premature birth or low birth weight

 • Genes – If you someone in your family is diagnosed with auditory processing disorder, your chances of developing it is higher than other people.

How Is Auditory Processing Disorder Diagnosed?

A doctor can use a hearing test to check if the communication issues are caused by hearing loss. However, only an audiologist can diagnose auditory processing disorder. 

An audiologist will perform a series of advanced hearing tests where a patient will have to listen to different sounds and respond accordingly when they hear them. The response may either be repeating the heard sound or pushing a button. Painless electrodes may also be attached to the ears to measure how the brain reacts to sound.

APD hearing tests are not given to children 7 years and below. This is because the response of very young children may not be accurate.

What do audiologists look for when diagnosing Auditory Processing Disorder?

The problems below are usually applied to children, but may still be applicable to adults with auditory processing disorder.

Auditory figure-ground problems: This manifests when a child can’t seem to pay attention when there’s significant noise in the background. For a child with APD, loosely structured classrooms can be very aggravating.

Auditory memory problems: A child may struggle memorizing or remembering information that includes lists, study materials or directions. 

Auditory discrimination problems: This is the most common APD issue, in both kids and adults. A person with auditory processing disorder may have trouble hearing and differentiating similar words or sounds. Coat may be heard as boat; chair may be heard as share. This predicament may affect reading, spelling and writing skills.

Auditory attention problems: APD may trigger concentration problems because a child may have a hard time staying focused while listening to the lesson. Kids diagnosed with auditory processing disorder have higher chances of not being able to give their full attention in class, although we also have to acknowledge that motivation, health and attitude also play a role.

Auditory cohesion problems: Higher-level listening tasks may pose to be a struggle for people with APD. Comprehending verbal math problems, solving riddles, or drawing assumptions from conversations fall under auditory cohesion skills, which may become affected with APD.

If you are in Osseo, MN and are looking for a trusted hearing clinic with years of experience to diagnose or manage auditory processing disorder, our audiologists at Hearing Health Clinic are ready to be at your service.

Auditory Processing Disorder: What are the Treatments and Interventions?

There’s no specific cure for auditory processing disorder. Treatments and interventions are specific to each individual.

APD treatments and intervention usually focuses on the following areas:

Classroom support: Electronic devices or a frequency modulation (FM) system can help children with auditory processing disorder hear the teacher more clearly. Teachers can also take part in APD intervention for children – such as seating them at the front of the class and minimizing background noise.

Therapy: Speech therapy can help a person with auditory processing disorder improve conversational skills by being able to recognize sounds easily.

Boosting other skills: Problem solving, memorizing, public speaking – these learning skills, among others, can help both children and adults win over APD.

Auditory Processing Disorder in Kids

About 5% of school-aged children are diagnosed with auditory processing disorder. This condition poses some issues with learning because children have a hard time processing what they hear compared to how other kids do.

With auditory processing disorder, the ears and the brain are not fully coordinated. They are able to pick up sounds but along the way to the brain, something interferes, causing changes in what they hear.

How do you teach a child with auditory processing disorder?

With the right intervention and therapy, kids with auditory processing disorder can succeed in school and life overall.

The most important thing, and we cannot stress this further, is early diagnosis. If auditory processing disorder isn’t noticed and treated early on, a child may experience speech and language delays which could lead to a whole case of learning problems at school.

Auditory Processing Disorder in Adults

Although most adults with auditory processing disorder are diagnosed in either childhood or adolescence, undetected and untreated symptoms could be the reason behind difficulties in communication and comprehension.

Patients with auditory processing disorder describe the world as garbled or distorted. We’re not going to sugarcoat it, having APD makes understanding and interpreting verbal information difficult.

Auditory processing in adults may show in poor reading comprehension, poor listening skills or miscommunication. This usually leads to issues with co-workers, family, friends and loved ones.

In short, APD can put a strain on your relationships. Living with auditory processing disorder may seem like you are trying to have a Zoom call but the Wi-Fi signal keeps going on and off.

What can be done for auditory processing disorder in adults?

There are numerous treatments or interventions for auditory processing disorder. It’s rarely just focused on one treatment – audiologists may combine one or more treatments for faster improvement.

Some treatments for auditory processing disorder may include environment modification and teaching skills to compensate for the condition. Working closely with an audiologist is also proven to improve the auditory deficit aspect of APD.

Living With Auditory Processing Disorder

An adult with APD may constantly say “What?” or “Huh?” than the average person. Adults with auditory processing disorder may also experience the ff.:

Listening to media (TV, cellphone, tablet) at full volume but still having difficulty understanding.

Not being to deliver tasks or commands properly (at home or in the office)

You have a problem remembering people’s names even if they were just introduced to you.

You have a hard time following the conversation when you are at a bar or party with friends.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms above, or you notice a friend or family member exhibiting these symptoms, it’s time to consider consulting an audiologist for a formal assessment.

Hearing Health Care is one of the top hearing clinics in Osseo, MN that handles auditory processing disorders, among other hearing-related services.

Important Information:


Watch out for Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

In rare cases, sudden sensorineural hearing loss may occur, leading to sudden deafness.

If this happens to you or a family member, get medical care ASAP.


Help for Sensorineural Hearing Loss in Minnesota

If you feel that you may have sensorineural hearing loss, the initial step would be to have a detailed hearing examination from an audiologist. At Hearing Health Clinic, we will work with you to confirm your case and determine the underlying cause and extent of hearing loss. After doing so, we can then develop an individualized plan to manage it.