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What is rare sensorineural nerve hearing loss? Know causes, symptoms and more

Rare sensorineural nerve hearing loss is a condition that affects a small percentage of the population but can have a significant impact on their daily lives. It is crucial to understand the causes and symptoms of this condition to seek proper treatment and improve quality of life.

Written By: Kristina Das @https://twitter.com/KristinaDas2 New Delhi Updated on: June 18, 2024 14:06 IST
rare sensorineural nerve hearing loss
Image Source : FREEPIK Know what is rare sensorineural nerve hearing loss.

Veteran Bollywood playback singer, Alka Yagnik has recently shared her health update on social media platforms. The singer has mentioned in her post that she has been recently diagnosed with rare sensorineural nerve hearing loss. However, she has also mentioned in her post that it has happened due to a viral attack.

Her post reads as, "To all my fans, friends, followers and well wishers. A few weeks ago, as I walked out of a flight, I suddenly felt I was not able to hear anything. Having mustered some courage in the weeks following the episode, I want to break my silence now for all my friends and well wishers who have been asking me why I’m missing in action. It has been diagnosed by my docs as a rare sensory neural nerve hearing loss, due to a viral attack…This sudden, major setback has caught me completely unaware. As I attempt to come to terms with it please keep me in your prayers. For my fans and young colleagues, I would add a word of caution regarding exposure to very loud music and headphones. One day, I wish to share the health perils of my professional life. With all your love and support I am hoping to recalibrate my life and come back to you soon. Your support and understanding will mean the world to me in this critical hour…"

What is rare sensorineural nerve hearing loss?

It is a type of hearing loss that is caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve pathways that transmit sound from the ear to the brain. It is called “rare” because it accounts for only 5-15% of all cases of hearing loss. According to Dr Vijay Verma, Consultant, Allergy & ENT Specialist, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, sudden SNHL is a rare entity which can occur in any age group. It may happen due to loud sound exposure, infection, autoimmune disease, neurological, vascular disease, trauma or some drugs and in some cases due to tumour. Nerve weakness may vary from mild hearing loss to complete hearing loss. Patients sometimes feel that it is due to wax or cold and start putting drops and medicines on their own without realizing the criticality of the disease. If we start treatment within 24 to 72 hours of the start of illness then chances of improvement also increase.

Causes of Rare Sensorineural Nerve Hearing Loss

There are several potential causes of rare sensorineural nerve hearing loss. Some cases are congenital, meaning they are present at birth. These can be due to genetic factors or complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Other cases may develop later in life due to various factors, such as:

  1. Noise exposure: Prolonged exposure to loud noise can damage the hair cells in the inner ear, leading to hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is also known as noise-induced hearing loss and is one of the most common causes of sensorineural nerve hearing loss.
  2. Ageing: As we age, our bodies go through natural changes, including in our ears. As we get older, the tiny hair cells in our inner ear become damaged or die, causing sensorineural nerve hearing loss.
  3. Infections and diseases: Certain infections and diseases can also lead to rare sensorineural nerve hearing loss. These include meningitis, mumps, measles, and autoimmune diseases like Meniere's disease.
  4. Trauma: Head injuries or trauma to the inner ear can cause damage to the auditory nerve and lead to sensorineural nerve hearing loss.
  5. Ototoxic medications: Some medications, such as certain antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, can damage the hair cells in the inner ear and cause hearing loss.

Symptoms of Rare Sensorineural Nerve Hearing Loss

The symptoms of rare sensorineural nerve hearing loss can vary depending on the severity and cause of the condition. Some common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty understanding speech.
  • Muffled or distorted sounds.
  • Ringing, buzzing, or hissing sounds in the ears.
  • Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. 
  • Balance issues.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to consult an audiologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Treatment Options for Rare Sensorineural Nerve Hearing Loss

Unfortunately, sensorineural nerve hearing loss is usually permanent and cannot be reversed. However, there are several treatment options available to manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life for those with this condition. These include medications, cochlear implants, hearing aids and assistive listening devices.

ALSO READ: Alka Yagnik diagnosed with rare sensory hearing loss, says 'I was not able to hear anything'

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