Auditory neuropathy (AN) occurs when the nerve system of the inner ear fails to process sounds coming from the outer ear.
The outer ear sends vibrations to the inner ear during the hearing process. Hair cells in the inner ear break down the vibrations into electrical signals. These are sent to the brain. The brain filters them as sound. There is debate about the exact cause of AN. It may be due to:
Factors that may increase your chance of developing AN include:
AN may cause:
The level of hearing loss can vary from mild to severe. People with AN may have trouble picking out words. Many cases involve children.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Goals of treatment include:
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists
Ontario Association for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
Auditory neuropathy. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/neuropathy.asp. Updated March 15, 2011. Accessed May 30, 2014.
Causes of hearing loss. My Baby’s Hearing website. Available at: http://www.babyhearing.org/HearingAmplification/Causes/Neuropathy.asp. Accessed May 30, 2014.
Cochlear implants. American Academy of Otolaryngology website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/cochlear-implants-0. Updated January 2013. Accessed May 30, 2014.
Ototoxic medications (medication effects). American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Ototoxic-Medications. Accessed May 30, 2014.
Ototoxicity. Vestibular Disorders Association website. Available at: http://vestibular.org/ototoxicity. Accessed May 30, 2014.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.