Sensorineural hearing loss is a commonly accompanied by tinnitus. Some researchers believe that subjective tinnitus cannot exist without some prior damage to the auditory system. The underlying hearing loss can be the result of:
- Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)– Hearing often deteriorates as people get older, typically starting around the age of 60. This form of hearing loss tends to be bilateral (in both ears) and involve the sensory loss of high-frequency sounds. Age-related hearing loss explains, in part, why tinnitus is so prevalent among seniors.
- Noise-induced hearing loss– Exposure to loud noises, either in a single traumatic experience or over time, can damage the auditory system and result in hearing loss and sometimes tinnitus as well. Noise induced hearing loss is sometimes unilateral (one ear only) and typically causes patients to lose hearing around the frequency of the triggering sound trauma.
The patient may not notice any missing frequencies if they already have hearing loss. But that doesn’t imply no damage has been done. A hearing specialist can perform accurate audiometric testing to precisely measure hearing loss.