Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss; SSHL
DefinitionDeafness is a severe or complete loss of hearing. Deafness can occur in one or both ears. It can happen slowly or suddenly. Early detection and management can lessen the impact on quality of life.Types of deafness may include:
- Conductive—Caused by the inability of the sound to reach the inner ear.
- Sensorineural—Caused by disorders of the inner ear, auditory nerve, or areas of the brain involved with hearing. This type of loss is usually permanent.
|Anatomy of the Ear|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
CausesSound waves travel from the outside and through structures in the outer, middle, and inner ear. The auditory nerve transmits the signal to the brain where it is translated into sound. Interruption of the sound wave can occur in the ear structures, the auditory nerve, or in the brain where sound waves are translated. This interruption can result in deafness.Deafness can be present at birth (or soon after) or acquired anytime throughout life. In many cases, the cause of deafness may be unknown.
Risk FactorsFactors related to fetal development and birth that may increase the chance of deafness include:
- Certain infections in the mother during pregnancy, including rubella or sexually transmitted diseases
- Certain medications taken by the mother that affect the fetus during pregnancy
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Insufficient oxygen to the fetus during birth or other birth trauma
- Newborn jaundice, which can cause damage to the auditory nerve
- Certain genetic disorders
- Structural defects in the ear
- Ear disorders, such as:
- Family history
- Occupations with noise exposure without proper hearing protection
- Infections, such as meningitis or mumps
- Head or ear trauma
- Previous brain or ear surgery
- Sudden pressure changes—barotrauma
- Sudden excessive noise that damages the ear, such as an explosion
- Cogan's syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder
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