Perceptive deafness, usually referred to as sensorineural hearing loss, is caused by malformations or damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. We explain its causes and possible treatments in our article below.
What is sensorineural hearing loss?
Different types of hearing loss are identified by the physical location of the underlying issue. This post will focus on perceptive or sensorineural deafness, which is caused by injuries or disorders in the inner ear or auditory nerve.
These injuries in the inner ear affect its structure and main function–transmitting vibrations in the form of nerve impulses to the auditory nerve and brain–and therefore cause a loss of hearing. Perceptive deafness can affect one ear (unilateral) or both (bilateral).
A combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss due to damage or abnormalities in both the middle and inner ear is known as mixed deafness.
Causes and symptoms of sensorineural or perceptive deafness
Patients suffering perceptive deafness have difficulties distinguishing words against a noisy background.
If they are only deaf in one ear, it can be difficult for them to identify where sounds are coming from, and they can be distorted if presented to the patient’s deaf side. If, however, the patient has bilateral deafness, their hearing issues are not affected by background noise, and they will have trouble distinguishing words even when there is no other sound source around them.
Perceptive deafness can be caused by several issues in the inner ear, including infections or damage linked to the use of ototoxic drugs, strokes, an increase in blood pressure or tumours on the auditory nerve (acoustic neuroma). Perceptive or sensorineural hearing loss may also be congenital: another possible cause involves the patient’s neuronal structures, which can impede the transmission of sounds to the brain even when there is no damage to the auditory system itself. While the main causes of hearing loss that originates in the inner ear or auditory nerve are different, these cases have similar symptoms and effects.
Treating perceptive hearing loss
Treatment guidelines will depend on whether the damage or deformity is in one or both ears, and the severity of the hearing loss. However, hearing aids are the most common solution for people with slight to moderate hearing loss.
In cases of profound sensorineural hearing loss, patients are recommended to consider using cochlear implants. These implants simulate the natural hearing process with electric impulses that stimulate the auditory nerve.
Consult your medical or ENT specialist if you notice any changes in your hearing.
Do you suffer sensorineural hearing loss? Leave a comment here and share your experience with others in the same situation.