Get the scoop on all things sensorineural hearing loss, from signs to causes to treatments.

What on earth is sensorineural hearing loss? We hear this question a lot, so we thought we’d give you the rundown on all things sensorineural hearing loss, otherwise known as SNHL.

There are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss. If you or a loved one have SNHL, you’re not alone—it’s the most common type of hearing loss experienced by adults. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America[1], about 48 million Americans have some sort of hearing loss, making it the third most common health problem in the U.S.

SNHL can affect all aspects of your daily life and relationships, from skipping out on social activities to decreased productivity at work, and even mild forms of depression. But guess what? Hearing loss doesn’t have to—and shouldn’t—slow you down. And there are easy ways to treat it so you don’t miss out on a thing. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

For years SNHL has been referred to as “nerve deafness” or “nerve damage.” But it’s usually the result of normal aging and living a robust lifestyle (going to rock concerts, using power tools, listening to loud music through headphones, etc.). Most age-related hearing loss is sensorineural and happens gradually over time. It’s normally permanent and not treated successfully with medication.

Sensorineural hearing loss affects all conversations, making consonant sounds hard to make out. The word dog could sound like hog, fog, log—you get the gist. The possibilities are endless, which makes it hard to keep up with a conversation. Plus, you probably don’t want to surprise your family with a new hog when they’ve really been asking for a dog.

The most common and proven way to address typical SNHL is with the use of hearing aids. The good news is that hearing aids have come a long way from the clunky behind-the-ear ones that immediately come to mind. Take Eargo, for example. Eargo hearing aids are invisible, rechargeable, and no one will know you’re wearing them. And they’ll save you from having to explain to your spouse why a hog is now living in your house.

What are the Signs of Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

The following are common signs of sensorineural hearing loss.

  • Muffled hearing
  • Difficulty understanding speech, especially soft-spoken people
  • Thinking others are mumbling
  • Difficulty hearing the TV at a “normal” volume
  • Difficulty understanding conversation with background noise, like in a noisy restaurant
  • Troubling hearing on the phone
  • Full or “stuffy” sensation in the ear
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Dizziness

What Causes Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

While there are several potential causes of SNHL, in adults it’s most commonly a result of aging and exposure to noise, or as we like to say, a life well-lived. Below are a few more causes of sensorineural hearing loss.

  • Aging
  • Noise exposure
  • Certain illnesses, diseases, and even medication
  • Irregularities in the inner ear formation
  • Head trauma

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Audiogram

How do your ears compare?

See this nifty graph? It’s an audiogram of someone with sensorineural hearing loss, and it’s used to represent what a person can and can’t hear based on a hearing test.

If you have a medical condition or severe to profound hearing loss, maintaining regular hearing tests and contact with a hearing professional is extremely important.

For those with age-induced hearing loss, you don’t need a hearing test or an audiogram to get started with many hearing aids, including Eargo. Our team of hearing professionals has decades of experience and can talk with you about your hearing loss to help determine the best solution for you—whether it’s Eargo or not.

What Can Help Me Treat My Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Age-induced SNHL is usually treated successfully with hearing aids[2]. In the case of severe-to-profound loss, cochlear implants can be an option. If you have mild to moderate SNHL, Eargo’s revolutionary hearing aids may be just what the doctor ordered. And how’s this for a bonus? The doctor doesn’t even have to order them for you. Eargo’s changed every step of the hearing aid journey, from quick and easy ordering to at-home delivery of our nearly invisible, totally comfortable, and fully rechargeable devices. Take a look for yourself.


Request a free non-working sample or give our hearing experts a call at 1-800-734-7603, and they can talk to you about your hearing loss to help you find the best solution for you. You’ve got nothing to lose—except your hearing loss.





Jacob Hall, AuD is a research audiologist at Eargo and works with the clinical research department on R&D efforts.

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