Sensorineural hearing loss is primarily a disease of the auditory portion of the inner ear, the cochlea. Hair cells are the sensory receptor cells and are the most important cell in the inner ear. They convert the mechanical sound waves into neural information for transmission to the brain. Hair cells cannot regenerate. When they are lost, a permanent hearing loss is the result. There are many different causes of sensorineural hearing loss. In children, the most common causes are prematurity, infections around the time of birth, genetic predisposition or developmental abnormalities.
Management strategies include observation, hearing aids or cochlear implantation. Hearing aids can often help mild to moderate hearing loss. In more severe cases of hearing loss, a cochlear implant can produce dramatic improvements in hearing.