Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Know causes, symptoms

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | June 19, 2024 IST

Popular Indian playback singer Alka Yagnik disclosed that she has been diagnosed with a rare form of sensorineural hearing loss caused by a viral infection. This health condition has significantly impacted her well-being and has been the primary reason for her prolonged absence from public appearances.

In her message to fans and followers, Alka Yagnik cautioned against the risks associated with loud music and frequent use of headphones. She emphasized the potential for these habits to contribute to hearing impairment. "To my fans and younger colleagues, I urge caution regarding exposure to excessively loud music and prolonged headphone use," she advised. Alka also expressed her desire to someday share insights into the health challenges faced during her career.

What is Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL)

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is a type of hearing impairment caused by damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or the auditory nerve pathways leading to the brain. Unlike conductive hearing loss, which is often due to problems in the outer or middle ear, sensorineural hearing loss affects the ability of the inner ear to transmit sound signals to the brain effectively.

Causes:

Aging (Presbycusis): Natural aging process can cause degeneration of hair cells in the cochlea, leading to SNHL.

Noise Exposure: Prolonged exposure to loud noises, such as machinery, firearms, or music at high volumes, can damage the hair cells in the inner ear.

Genetic Factors: Some genetic conditions can predispose individuals to SNHL from birth or later in life.

Illnesses and Infections: Diseases like meningitis, mumps, and autoimmune disorders can affect the cochlea or auditory nerve.

Medications: Certain medications (ototoxic drugs) can damage the inner ear, particularly if used over extended periods.

Symptoms:

Difficulty understanding speech, especially in noisy environments.

Muffled or distorted hearing.

Trouble hearing high-pitched sounds.

Tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, or hissing in the ears).

Diagnosis:

A comprehensive audiological evaluation, including a hearing test (audiometry), is essential for diagnosing SNHL. This evaluation helps determine the degree and type of hearing loss and can identify whether the loss is sensorineural, conductive, or mixed.

Treatment:

Hearing Aids: For mild to moderate SNHL, hearing aids can amplify sound and improve hearing ability.

Cochlear Implants: For severe SNHL where hearing aids are ineffective, a cochlear implant may be recommended. This device bypasses damaged hair cells and stimulates the auditory nerve directly.

Assistive Listening Devices: These include devices like FM systems or Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids that help improve hearing in specific situations, such as classrooms or meetings.

Communication Strategies and Therapy: Techniques to improve communication skills, speechreading (lip-reading), and auditory training can assist individuals in managing SNHL effectively.

Prognosis:

The prognosis for SNHL varies depending on the cause, severity, and individual response to treatment. Early diagnosis and intervention can significantly improve outcomes and quality of life for those with SNHL.

Coping and Support:

Living with SNHL may require adjustments in daily life and communication habits. Support groups, counseling, and educational resources can provide emotional support and practical strategies for managing hearing loss.

Prevention:

Protective Measures: Use ear protection (earplugs or earmuffs) in noisy environments and limit exposure to loud noises.

Regular Check-ups: Routine hearing screenings can detect changes early, allowing for timely intervention.

Sensorineural hearing loss is a common condition that affects people of all ages and can have a profound impact on communication and quality of life. With advancements in hearing technology and ongoing research, there are more options than ever to manage and mitigate the effects of SNHL, helping individuals maintain active and engaged lives.

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