What is sensorial hearing loss?

Sensorial hearing loss is probably the most common and well-known form of hearing loss.  Sensorial hearing loss has been the subject of a lot of research and there is a wide range of treatment options available. Sensorial hearing loss is frequently associated with the aging process and most people will experience some sensorial hearing loss in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

Sensorial hearing loss is the name given to hearing loss that occurs in the cochlea. The cochlea is a vital part of the hearing organ and it contains sensitive hairs.  These hairs capture sound from the external environment and transmit them to the auditory nerve as electric signals. Damage or wear and tear in this part of the ear is usually permanent.

Sensorial hearing loss is generally a gradual process and it may be some time before you even become aware that your hearing is not as sharp as it used to be. As with other forms of hearing loss, you need to treat sensorial hearing loss seriously. Untreated hearing loss can negatively impact your physical and mental health, and social life.

Symptoms of sensorial hearing loss

Sensorial hearing loss typically involves the gradual loss of hearing across particular frequency ranges in both ears. Some forms of sensorial hearing loss, such as SSHL (Sudden Sensorial Hearing Loss), involve a sudden loss of hearing and often affect one ear only

Sensorial hearing loss frequently affects upper frequencies and so one of the most common symptoms is difficulty hearing specific speech sounds such as consonants. For example, many people find they start confusing B sounds with P sounds, and Ts with Cs and it can make communication frustrating.

Other symptoms include:

Other signs associated with sensorial hearing loss include excessive tiredness at the end of the day, feelings of irritation and frustration, and avoiding busy social settings. These challenges can lead to other mental health issues such as depression, memory loss, and cognitive decline. 

Some people may even be completely unaware of their hearing difficulties. The gradual nature of most sensorial hearing loss can make it very difficult to identify. However, the long-term impact on your health means it’s extremely important that you seek expert treatment.

What causes sensorial hearing loss

Sensorial hearing loss is the result of damage to the sensitive hair cells in the cochlea. The damage is usually the result of prolonged exposure to loud noise at work or through nightclubs, concerts or headphones. Sports such as shooting, motor racing also play a role in many cases of sensorial hearing loss.

A single loud explosive noise can be enough to cause instant damage to these hair cells. Certain ototoxic medicines and chemicals such as aviation fuel can also damage the hair cells.

Is sensorial hearing loss permanent?

The short answer is ‘yes’. Sensorial hearing loss is permanent and you cannot cure it with medicines or surgery. However, modern science is making major breakthroughs that may one day allow us to regenerate hair cells through gene therapy.

Prevention is definitely the best ‘cure’ for sensorial hearing loss. That means looking after your hearing throughout your life by:

  • Wearing hearing protection in noisy situations
  • Lowering the volume on your headphones
  • Reducing the number of hours wearing headphones
  • Following workplace safety guidelines around hazardous chemicals

It’s never too late to start looking after your hearing even if you already have some hearing loss. You can get custom fitted earplugs specially designed for musicians, shooters, divers and for any other situation where prolonged noise exposure may harm your hearing.

If you work around noise a lot it really helps to give your ears a break. That’s because the damage that noise can do to your hearing is cumulative. So, if you work in a loud bar for 8 hours, don’t go home and wear headphones or listen to loud music. 

Is there a treatment?

Currently, there is no ‘cure’ for sensorial hearing loss. However, there are very effective treatments that will allow you to regain much of your natural hearing ability. Modern technology has revolutionised hearing aids so they are now smaller, more convenient and powerful, packed full of amazing features, yet less expensive and temperamental. 

Research shows that hearing aids offer remarkable improvements in speech and memory. Hearing aids can even help you preserve your current hearing levels. Hearing aids now offer a range of features to make life easier including:

  • Automated listening programmes
  • Background noise reduction
  • Speech enhancement
  • Tinnitus management
  • Connectivity with smart devices

Some people might be tempted to try cheap hearing aids. We recommend that you avoid most of the cheap hearing devices available online. And it’s really important to get your hearing aids correctly fitted and adjusted to suit you.

It’s true that hearing aids will not provide a ‘cure’ for hearing loss but you can expect to hear many of those precious sounds you thought were lost forever. Whether you simply want to enjoy conversation with your friends, the birds singing or you need to hear better in challenging work meetings and conferences, we have the right hearing aid for you.

If you experience a sudden drop in hearing ability (Sudden Sensorial Hearing Loss) you need to see your hearing specialist or medical professional immediately. SSHL may indicate a serious medical condition. In any case, where the drop in hearing ability is sudden and dramatic, prompt treatment may preserve your hearing. 

Your hearing professional is always available to listen to any concerns you may have about your hearing or hearing issues with a family member. Come and talk to us at House of Hearing.