What is sensorineural hearing loss?

You see the “neural” in “sensori-neural”? That means it’s connected to your brain. Sensorineural hearing loss is when your inner ear or auditory nerve has been affected.
Sensorineural hearing loss

Causes of sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is generally caused by the loss of hair cells in the inner ear. This loss can be the result of a viral infection, an immune system malfunction, an inflammatory injury to the ear, or blocked blood flow to the ear. It can also be caused by sudden or long term exposure to loud noise.
Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), there are some tell-tale signs you can look out for. These include:
  • Trouble hearing with background noise present
  • Difficulty understanding speech, especially high-pitched voices
  • Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Dizziness and balance issues
  • Muffled hearing or a feeling of fullness in the ear
Symptoms of SNHL can occur in one ear (unilateral), both ears (bilateral) or can occur in both ears but be worse in one (asymmetrical). If you're experiencing sensorineural hearing loss, a hearing test can establish the extent of hearing loss and help you find the treatment path that's right for you. Take our free online hearing test to get started. Our online hearing test is a great first step in assessing your current hearing abilities.
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Sudden hearing loss

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss

While sensorineural hearing loss most often occurs over time, in rarer cases, it can also come on suddenly. This is referred to as sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) and, to increase chances of restored hearing, should be looked at immediately.

SSNHL tends to occur in your 50s or 60s, but can happen at any age and can usually be treated if caught early! It may start with a loud pop in the ear or you might feel like your ears are clogged. Your hearing will gradually decline within a matter of hours and the window for successful treatment usually falls between 10 to 14 days. If you believe you may be experiencing sudden sensorineural hearing loss, contact your Hearing Care Professional immediately.

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