Sensorineural hearing loss, commonly referred to as nerve hearing loss, accounts for 90% of hearing loss and refers to problems within the inner ear. Nerve hearing loss is extremely common and may require the immediate attention of an ENT doctor. Nerve hearing loss can be sudden and is considered an ENT emergency. Because of the seriousness of nerve hearing loss, it is important for you to be evaluated by an ENT doctor as soon as possible. An audiogram is oftentimes used to determine the cause of nerve hearing loss or sudden change in hearing.
It should be noted that in many cases your ENT doctor will be able to easily identify the reason behind nerve hearing loss. However, in some cases there will be no obvious cause of nerve hearing loss, which is commonly referred to as “idiopathic” hearing loss. Individuals who are experiencing nerve hearing loss most likely have sustained some type of damage to the cochlea or auditory nerve, which are both located in the inner ear. Both the cochlea and the auditory nerve play important roles in transmitting electrical information to the brain for processing.
The most common reason for nerve hearing loss is age. Nerve hearing loss that occurs as a result of the aging process is also referred to as presbycusis. Nerve hearing loss usually happens gradually and occurs in both ears. This type of hearing loss is characterized by an inability to hear high frequency sounds. People who live or work in noisy environments are at a higher risk for nerve hearing loss.Other causes for nerve hearing loss that can be determined by your ENT doctor:
Depending on the severity and cause of nerve hearing loss, your ENT doctor may treat it with a short course of oral steroids. An MRI study of the nerves in the ear may also be performed and will help your ENT doctor evaluate you for brain tumors and determine whether or not that was what caused nerve hearing loss.As cases will vary from patient to patient, it is important for you to contact your ENT doctor as soon as possible if you experience any level of hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss most commonly occurs when the inner nerves become damaged and fail to properly transmit their signals to the brain. As we age, the inner ear nerves and sensory cells gradually die, causing hearing loss of varying levels.