Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by a problem in the neural structures of the inner ear. It is the most common neurologic disability in the U.S. Aging is associated with hearing loss, and this common condition is called presbycusis. One third of patients over 60 years old and one half of patients over 85 have this type of hearing loss. Noise exposure, either at work or recreationally, is another important cause of sensorineural hearing loss. A patient will often note a history of hearing loss in the family, suggesting that there may be genetic factors in certain individuals with sensorineural hearing loss. In some cases, autoimmune factors can cause fluctuating hearing loss in both ears. Other conditions of the inner ear can cause dizziness as well as hearing loss. An example of this type of disorder is Meniere’s disease. A severe head injury or skull fracture can cause conductive or sensorineural hearing loss. In rare cases, a benign tumor called a vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma) can cause gradual or sudden sensorineural hearing loss in one ear.