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Specializing in problems of the Ear, nose, sinuses and throat.

An ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) is a physician trained in the medical and surgical treatment of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. They have special expertise in managing diseases of the ears, nose and nasal passage sinuses, larynx (voice box), oral cavity and upper pharynx (mouth and throat), as well as structures of the neck and face. ENT is the oldest medical specialty in the United States.

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Michael Burnett, MD


Treating Sensorineural Deafness

Hearing problems affect a substantial amount of individuals around the globe. No age, gender or race is exempt. Both children and seniors can suffer from hearing loss. However, the causal factors for each group can differ radically. For adults, the most common cause of deafness in most adults is sensorineural. Sensorineural deafness, unlike other forms, occurs in one of three places:

  • The inner ear
  • The auditory nerve
  • The brain

The type of hearing loss always will affect the direction treatment will take.

Causes of Sensorineural Deafness

Another name for this type of type of hearing loss is nerve deafness. It is also referred to as sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). As noted above, it tends to affect adults and not children – although some people are born with this problem. The risk of suffering from this type of deafness increases with age. In fact, more elderly Americans have sensorineural deafness than any other form of hearing loss. Figures argue the percentage of elderly so afflicted may be as high as 50% of those seniors age 70 or more.

The causes for sensorineural deafness are not known specifically. However, certain factors seem to contribute to its existence. The most prevalent is consistent and even constant exposure to loud noises. This includes, but is not restricted to the following:

    • Explosions – from working in a mine or in construction
    • Sudden, loud noises (acoustic trauma) – this may induce temporary or even permanent sensorineural deafness or hearing loss
    • Music – exposure to loud music consistently as part of employment or pleasure
    • Loud noises – such as those found in foundries, steel plants, certain types of factories, shipyards, etc.
    • Gunfire – an occupational or pleasurable hazard

However, this type of hearing loss may also appear following head trauma, certain disorders that effect the inner ear, Menière’s disease and tumors found on the auditory nerve. Furthermore, the taking of certain drugs used to treat severe illnesses e.g. ototoxic drugs used for chemotherapy and certain antibiotics, may also contribute to the hearing problem.

Treatment for Sensorineural Deafness

The treatment for hearing loss of this nature may be simple and singular. It will depend upon the type and extent of sensorineural deafness.  If the causal factors are sudden, loud noises, corticosteroids may effectively reduce the inflammation and swelling of the inner ear hair cells. In special cases, surgery may be able to repair inner ear rupture or leakage. Another possibility is medication, if the problem results from a disease.

However, these types of sensorineural hearing loss are not as common as irreversible sensorineural deafness. In such instances, you only have one option. This is simple and can be quite effective. You can manage the problem with hearing aids. While you may never be able to regain your hearing, at least you will be able to still enjoy the sounds of life around you.

Contact Dr. Burnett at 212-867-4813 to schedule a consultation

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Michael C. Burnett, MD

115 East 57th Street
Suite 600
Between Park + Lexington Avenues

212-867-4813