American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

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Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Types of Hearing Loss: Conductive Hearing Loss | Sensorineural Hearing Loss | Mixed Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea), or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Most of the time, SNHL cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss.

SNHL reduces the ability to hear faint sounds. Even when speech is loud enough to hear, it may still be unclear or sound muffled.

Some possible causes of SNHL:

  • Illnesses
  • Drugs that are toxic to hearing
  • Hearing loss that runs in the family (genetic or hereditary)
  • Aging
  • Head trauma
  • Malformation of the inner ear
  • Exposure to loud noise

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