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What causes hidden hearing loss?

It is believed that hidden hearing loss is due to noise exposure. Even when hidden hearing loss doesn't result in an abnormal hearing test, it is insidious. It begins on literally a cellular level, so there's damage to the cells in the inner ear, and in the primary auditory nerve in the inner ear and in the brain. It's believed that the process is a demyelination of the nerve, where the myelin sheath or the fatty covering of the nerve may be stripped away due to noise exposure. The result is that it becomes more difficult to understand speech in noise. Even if the speech is loud enough, the noise recruits additional nerve fibers that need to be able to respond to understand, and those nerve fibers may be damaged by hidden hearing loss.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.