Many of us have been spending a lot more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. During these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to stay connected with others. We rely on technology like smartphones, tablets, and computers to help us keep abreast of the news, maintain important relationships, and engage in relaxing pastimes like listening to music. Unfortunately, untreated hearing loss can make those essential activities frustrating or even impossible. If you have trouble hearing, chances are you’re experiencing sensorineural hearing loss.
What Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
The most common type of hearing loss is sensorineural. It usually results from damaged hair cells in the inner ear or, less often, a problem with the nerve that runs between the inner ear and the brain. With this kind of hearing loss, the sounds you hear may seem muffled, and you may not hear certain sounds at all. Unfortunately, sensorineural hearing loss is permanent but can vary from mild to moderate and severe.
Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
As we age, it’s natural to slowly lose the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. Therefore, it’s not surprising that aging is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Another common cause is exposure to loud noise. It could be a single exposure to very loud noise, like fireworks or an explosion. More often, sensorineural hearing loss is connected to repeated exposure to moderately loud noise. People at high risk include those who work in loud environments like factory employees and musicians – Huey Lewis is one such musician.
We also see it in young people who regularly listen to music/videos or podcasts through headphones at high volumes. We’re concerned that the lockdown may cause a rise in those cases. We know young people are using headphones as a means to separate themselves from others in their homes. To prevent hearing damage, it’s critical that parents teach their kids to listen at a safe volume (60% or less of the maximum) – most headphones have this technology built into their design, but older/cheaper models might not. If your family members are glued to their headphones, make sure they are well designed and safe – as poor fit and loud volumes can cause ear pain, infection, tinnitus, and permanent hearing loss.
Finally, a head injury, certain medications, and particular illnesses can also be causes of sensorineural hearing loss.
What to Do If You Suspect Hearing Loss
When you believe that you or a loved one has any type of hearing loss, getting a hearing assessment is essential. A hearing test is a painless way to learn whether your hearing loss is mild, moderate, severe, or profound. For perspective, someone with mild hearing loss may be unable to hear the leaves rustling in the wind whereas the person with profound hearing loss may not be able to hear most sounds, no matter the volume.
We have an innovative telehealth service, Access Video Audiology Care (AVA Care), which is available as a preferred choice for the safety of our more vulnerable patients. During an AVA Care appointment, you see and speak with your hearing specialist via a video call. The other option is to schedule an appointment for one of our mobile hearing specialists to come to your home.
Treatment for Sensorineural Hearing Loss
While there isn’t a cure for sensorineural hearing loss, we can treat it. Hearing aids can dramatically improve the sounds you’re able to hear. Modern hearing aids are barely visible and pack an incredible technological punch; they’re designed to work alongside your lifestyle, self-adjusting to noisy environments they focus on specific conversations and are also fully-integrated with the technologies you already use like your smartphone or television. Apps like ReSound Assist even allow your hearing specialist to make remote adjustments to your hearing aids from the comfort and convenience of your own home!