There are different types of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear. It can also be caused by damage the nerve pathway from the inner ear to the brain. It is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. It usually cannot be reversed by surgery or medical intervention. It is common in those over the age of 65, but can happen at any age as a result of disease.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Caused by Disease
There are a number of infections that can cause permanent sensorineural loss. This is not to be confused with the temporary muffling of sound that can occur when you have a cold and have fluid build up in the ear.
Bacterial Meningitis can cause lesions on the cochlea or brainstem that result in permanent hearing loss.
Measles can lead to hearing loss. The mechanism is not thoroughly understood, but based on the work described in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences by Dr. Michael J. McKenna, Massachusetts Ear and Eye Infirmary, the auto-immune response in the inner ear as a result of the infection may be the culprit. Nerve damage as a result of brain swelling is also thought to be a cause of measles induced hearing loss.
Mumps can also lead to hearing loss as a result of endolymphatic
labyrinthitis. This is where there is viral damage to the structure of the inner ear. Mumps-related hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. The loss may be in one or both ears.
Syphilis can cause hearing loss whether congenital or acquired. Syphilis can result in lesions and nerve damage that cause sensorineural hearing loss. The loss may occur in one or both ears
Autoimmune Disorders and Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Hearing loss as a result of autoimmune disorders happens as well. Common immune disorders that can lead to hearing loss are allergy, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, colitis, psoriatic arthritis, and dry eye syndrome just to name a few.
While not thoroughly understood, it is thought that this hearing loss is caused by cytokines damaging the inner ear or damage by T-cells that have gone rogue.
If you have an autoimmune disorder, it is important that you work closely with your doctor to control your symptoms to minimize the risk of hearing loss.
Living with Sensorineural Hearing Loss
While your hearing loss may not be reversible, it is certainly treatable. It can’t be cured, but with the use of adaptive devices, you can live a full and active life.
As soon as you first suspect you have hearing loss after an infection (whether it is a cold, flu, or something more serious) get to a doctor right away. Auditory screening and a physical inspection of your ears can determine if hearing loss has occurred.
If necessary, you can be referred to an audiologist to perform hearing tests and, if necessary, fit you with hearing aids.