Choosing the Right Hearing Aids for Sensorineural Hearing Loss - Attune
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Choosing the Right Hearing Aids for Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Right Hearing Aids

It is estimated that one in every six Australians experience some form of hearing loss, making it highly likely you or someone you know and love is dealing with the challenges this sensory loss brings. 

No matter the severity, hearing loss is a global, social, and medical problem. When left untreated, it can be considered a significant national health concern. This is because the effects of hearing loss extend beyond just not being able to hear properly but can also negatively affect other important aspects of your life, including your health and wellbeing. 

Despite how common hearing loss is, it is often under-recognised and untreated. Specifically, in older groups with a common belief that hearing loss is a normal part of ageing, proper management is often neglected. 

However, because hearing is a significantly prevalent part of life, medical professionals and specialists have dedicated time and research to make great strides for effective support and treatment options. Knowing the type of hearing loss you have is essential when choosing the best treatment option for you. Meaning it is more important than ever you get your hearing tested at the first sign of hearing loss.  

The most common type of hearing loss is sensorineural in nature. So, if you have been diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, or think you may be suffering from it, continue reading to find out what hearing aid options are available for you.

What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Despite its commonality, the term ‘sensorineural’ is not typically used beyond the medical or audiology field. However, for those with hearing loss, understanding the terms that exist to describe your condition is extremely important for personal, social, and treatment purposes.

Essentially, sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the cochlea, typically where the hairs cells are either damaged or destroyed. The cochlear is a powerful yet sensitive part of the ear that converts mechanical energy into nerve impulses sent to the brain. Known as the ‘organ of hearing’, understandably, any damage done to it can be highly detrimental. 

This type of hearing loss can also result from damage to the auditory or eighth nerve that runs from the cochlear to the brain. The term ‘sensorineural’ is hence derived from this sensory and neural connection.

Sensorineural hearing loss can present itself in various degrees of hearing loss, from mild to profound, depending on the degree of damage to the internal ear structures, and the causational factors.  

What causes hearing loss

What causes it?

Damage to the structural hair cells in the inner ear of the auditory nerve can be a result of exposure to excessive noise, chemical damage, environmental agents, the natural ageing process, medications, and genetic factors. The variety in causality means that sensorineural hearing loss can be present at birth or acquired later in life. 

Exposure to loud noise and sounds above 85 decibels can permanently damage the hairs. As the second most common cause of hearing loss, noise exposure can happen at any age and is something everyone should be aware of. 

Genetic factors can also cause sensorineural hearing loss, with the incidence of permanent hearing loss in one to two per 1,000 people at birth. 

Age is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss, typically caused by genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. Affecting 37% of adults ages 60 to 70 years and more than 80% of adults over 85 years, hearing loss is the most common sensory deficit in elderly patients. 

The many sources of sensorineural hearing loss indicate that prevention isn’t always effective. Ageing is a natural part of life, as are genetics. Still, fortunately, many management and treatment options are now available to help support you and your hearing health throughout all stages of life and levels of hearing loss. 

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss 

Under the sensorineural hearing loss umbrella falls the ‘sudden’ variant. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is essentially a sudden hearing impairment that occurs within three days or even instantly of being exposed to at least 30 decibels.

Sensorineural in nature, it is essentially the same as typical sensorineural hearing loss. The difference is it can come on suddenly and indicate a medical emergency. Without immediate medical care, the more time passes, the less likely treatments will successfully help you hear again.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hearing Aids for Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Although you may have come here to find the best hearing aid option for you, there really is no ‘best’ hearing aids for sensorineural hearing loss. 

However, this is not because there are no treatment options, but rather, the opposite. The commonality of this type of hearing loss has meant that most hearing aids are created to target sensorineural hearing loss. 

Different hearing aids possess different features, including Bluetooth and different styles but are ultimately particular to your preference. Finding an audiologist who can assess your specific hearing needs is the best way to ensure you choose the most effective hearing aid. 

Modern developments have seen the introduction of implantable hearing aids designed to help increase the transmission of sound vibrations entering the inner ear. In particular, middle ear implants (MEI) are small devices attached to one of the bones in the middle ear. The idea is to move the bones directly than amplify the sound travelling to the eardrum. 

These modern hearing aids can make the frequencies perceptible to the ear again, amplify the sound signals, and mask hearing problems. This is specifically beneficial for sensorineural hearing loss because of its permanent nature. As a result, these hearing aids can mimic normal hearing and match specific hearing loss symptoms to suit your needs and preferences.

Types of hearing aids

So, while there are no distinct right or wrong hearing aids, understanding the options available is a great start to help you talk with your audiologist about finding the most appropriate hearing aid for you. 

In-the-ear hearing aids

As the name implies, these hearing aids fit inside the outer ear. They are generally used for mild to severe hearing loss and are often available with various additional features. This includes accommodating the telecoil, a technology used to improve sound during phone calls. 

They are usually custom-fit based on technicalities identified by a professional, meaning they can fit very deeply within the ear canal to closer to the outer ear. In-the-ear hearing aid styles include:

  • Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC)
  • Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) 
  • In-the-canal (ITC) 
  • Low-profile hearing aids

Behind-the-ear hearing aids

Alternatively, these hearing aids are worn behind the ears in a case connected to a plastic ear mould inside the outer ear. Also typically used for mild to severe hearing loss, they differ from inner ear aids as they don’t block the entire ear canal opening. 

Behind-the-ear hearing aid styles include:

  • Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE)
  • Behind-the-ear with earmold

Best Hearing Aid

What is the Best Hearing Aid for Me?

As mentioned, no hearing aid is a bad hearing aid. Every option on the market has been trialled and tested to ensure effectiveness, and it ultimately depends on the level of your hearing loss as to which option you choose. 

However, we understand that this is easier said than done. Understanding your condition, how it will affect you socially and physically, and the different hearing aid options available are not achievable in a two minute Google search. That’s exactly why audiologists exist.

If you are struggling with your hearing, or are experiencing sudden hearing loss, seek medical  advice immediately. Swift intervention is the best way to ensure your hearing issues can be treated properly. 

Book a hearing test today to get you started on understanding your hearing health. The experienced team at Attune Hearing work with patients of all ages and hearing levels and are dedicated to helping you live your full potential when it comes to hearing well. 

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