The countless tiny nerve endings in your inner ear are essential to your ability to hear. When these nerve endings (or other structures in the inner ear) are damaged, the result is often sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss generally does not lead to total deafness. In fact, in many instances only certain sounds become difficult to hear. A person affected by sensorineural hearing loss make claim that some sounds are actually too loud while other sounds are instinct and muffled. Discerning speech patterns becomes especially difficult, in particular when listening in a noisy location. Men’s voices frequently sound clearer than higher-pitched women’s voices and tracking conversations with several speakers is especially challenging. People with sensorineural hearing loss may also find themselves feeling dizzy or experiencing ringing in the ears.

There is no single cause of sensorineural deafness that applies to all individuals. In some cases the individual has this problem from birth. Congenital sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by genetic syndromes, as well as by infections that can pass from mother to infant..

Sensorineural hearing loss that begins later life can have many numerous root causes. Acoustic trauma, contact with an exceedingly loud noise, can cause this issue. Consistent exposure to lower level noise, such as working with noisy equipment or listening to loud music, can also result in inner ear damage.

Sensorineural hearing loss can come on suddenly, such as in the case of viral infections. Viruses such as measles, mumps and meningitis can all lead to this issue. Equally problematic is Meniere’s Disease, which can lead to fluctuating hearing loss as well as vertigo and tinnitus. In both cases, corticosteroids may be able to provide relief.

Tumors can cause sensorineural hearing loss as can sudden changes in air pressure and head traumas. Other physical reasons for sensorineural hearing loss include the hereditary disorder otosclerosis where a bony growth in the inner ear interferes with hearing.

There is no denying that sensorineural hearing loss can significantly decrease your quality of life, but there are ways to address it.