The ear is comprised on three parts: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The outer ear includes all the structure up to the eardrum. The middle ear structures consist of several bony structures that are suspended in air and transmit sound from the eardrum to the inner ear. The inner ear consists of the cochlea. In this structure, sound waves are translated into neurological impulses that are conducted to the brain by the auditory nerves. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when either the Cochlea or the auditory nerves fair to function normally. This condition usually affects both ears. When only one side is affected, it is necessary to exclude other conditions such as tumors or injuries. Vertigo and ringing of the ears is not usually associated with sensorineural hearing loss.
Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Aging as well as chronic exposure to noise can eventually lead to damage within the Cochlea. Here, hair cells of the organ of Corti, that detect motions caused by the sound waves, are damaged. In most cases of Sensorineural hearing loss, diminished hearing of high frequency sounds occurs first. Eventually, damage is more diffuse in the cochlea and all frequencies of sound are affected.
Signs and Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Because low and medium pitched hearing is preserved, speech detection remains good. However, patients frequently complain of an inability to understand words. It is not apparent to the individual affected that their hearing is impaired. They may blame others for mumbling. This high frequency hearing loss usually becomes more apparent when background noise is present.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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