This type of hearing loss is sometimes referred to as sensory, cochlear, neural or inner ear hearing loss.

A permanent sensorineural hearing loss is the result of damage to the hair cells within the cochlea or the hearing nerve (or both). Damage to the cochlea occurs naturally as part of the ageing process (age-related hearing loss is known as presbycusis) – but there are many other factors that can either cause impairment, or add to it, such as:
  • Regular and prolonged exposure to loud sounds. These sounds do not necessarily have to be unpleasant – for example, exposure to loud music can be just as harmful as exposure to loud machinery. Even short term exposure to loud sound can cause temporary deafness, click
  • Ototoxic drugs – some medicines are harmful to the cochlea and/or hearing nerve. These include drugs that are used in the treatment of seriouc diseases such as cancer but also include certain types of antibiotics.
  • Certain infectious diseases, including Rubella
  • Complications at birth
  • Injury to the head
  • Benign tumours on the auditory nerve. Although rare, these can cause hearing loss
  • Genetic predisposition – some people are especially prone to hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss not only changes our ability to hear quiet sounds, but it also reduces the quality of the sound that is heard, meaning that individuals with this type of hearing loss will often struggle to understand speech. Once the cochlea hair cells become damaged, they will remain damaged throughout that person’s life. This of course means that sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible and cannot be cured – at least at the present time.