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Sensori-neural hearing loss: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About sensori-neural hearing loss

Sensori-neural hearing loss is a very challenging ear disorder. Such a hearing loss is total or partial and may affect one ear or both the ears. It is characterized by loss of hearing resulting from problems in the inner ear, disruption of the nerve pathway from the inner ear to the brain, or problems in the brain.

Sensori-neural hearing loss: Incidence, age and sex

The estimated yearly incidence of sudden sensori-neural hearing loss is 5 to 20 cases per 100,000 persons.

Signs and symptoms of sensori-neural hearing loss: Diagnosis

There may be ringing sounds in the ear and difficulty in hearing when there is a background noise. Some people with sensori-neural hearing loss may not be able to pay attention to sounds (such as voices, environmental noises) indicating they have not heard it at all. However some affected people may exhibit no symptoms at all.

The diagnosis is through a comprehensive ear examination and recording the patient's medical and family history. Depending upon the patient's overall condition and age, hearing tests or a head CT scan or head MRI or an EEG (a test that records the minute electrical impulses produced by the activity of the brain) for hearing may be performed.

Causes and prevention of sensori-neural hearing loss

Sensori-neural hearing loss is due to damage to some part of the inner ear. Although most of the cases of sensorineural hearing loss are considered idiopathic (no known cause), scientists believe that factors like heredity, age and environmental and physical concerns (as in trauma-induced problems, tumours, noise damage and drug-induced hearing loss) may play a role. Furthermore, viral infections such as influenza, rubella, mumps, herpes simplex and vascular diseases such as leukaemia and sickle cell anaemia may also play a role. Autoimmune diseases such as lupus and temporal arteritis may also cause sensori-neural hearing loss.

Besides these factors, cancer therapy like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery are also known to induce sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensori-neural hearing loss: Complications

The main complication of sensori-neural hearing loss includes longstanding hearing impairment, which can subsequently result in depression and anxiety.

Sensori-neural hearing loss: Treatment

The underlying cause of sensori-neural hearing loss needs to be treated first. Thereafter remedies like flushing of ear wax out of the ear with the help of ear syringes and warm water may be done. Wax softeners may be needed if the wax is hard and sticking to the ears. Hearing aids or cochlear implants may also be considered in some individuals whose hearing does not improve with above stated measures. A hearing aid is a small electronic device that fits into the ear and helps in hearing. On the other hand, cochlear implant is an electronic device implanted behind the ear, and which directly stimulates the auditory nerve fibres in the inner ear, thus improving the hearing potential.