Inner ear is an important part of the ear and inner ear nerve damage can be a serious condition for some people. It is important to know the symptoms of inner ear nerve damage, its main causes and the treatment of inner ear nerve damage.
About Inner Ear Nerve Damage
The ear is one of the most delicate parts of the body and since a large area of the ear remains unseen and well hidden, it becomes quite difficult to manage certain conditions. The inner ear nerve is a sensory one which is also known as the auditory nerve or vestibulocochlear nerve. It has 2 branches with the first being the cochlear branch that helps to carry sound waves from the inner ear to the brain. The second branch is the vestibular branch which helps in balancing the body correctly. If the inner ear nerve gets damaged due to any reason, it can affect the person’s hearing as well as body balance.
Inner ear never damage is irreversible in many cases and if you feel any issues in your ears, it is best to consult your doctor immediately as early detection of the problem helps the patient to get better treatment. Let us understand the causes and symptoms of inner ear nerve damage in detail.
Symptoms of Inner Ear Nerve Damage
There are 3 major symptoms of inner ear nerve damage which indicate the problem clearly.
- Tinnitus – The commonest symptom of inner ear nerve damage is tinnitus. A constant sound which does not come from the surroundings but is heard by the person almost continuously is known as tinnitus. It can be a roar, a buzzing or clicking sound or a constant ringing and may be experienced in one or both the ears. However, such a sound can only be heard by the person suffering from inner ear nerve damage and not those around him.
- Vertigo – In this symptom, the patients feel as if everything around them is spinning even though in reality nothing is moving. This is an abnormal motion sense and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Vertigo is another common symptom of inner ear nerve damage and can affect the person’s ability to maintain balance or function efficiently.
- Hearing Loss – Being quite embarrassing and frustrating, hearing loss can often make people feel isolated. When the sensory nerve endings get damaged, it can cause permanent hearing loss and this is one of the biggest symptoms of inner ear nerve damage. The sensory nerve is no longer able to transmit proper signals to the brain and in many cases such hearing loss is very sudden. The patients complain that though they can hear people around them mumbling, they are unable to understand what they are saying.
Main Causes of Inner Ear Nerve Damage
The main causes of inner ear nerve damage are mentioned below:
- Injury – One of the most common and main causes of inner ear nerve damage is injury to the ears. If the temporal bone experiences a closed injury, it can damage the auditory nerve and affect its functioning to a large extent.
- Tumors – If a patient is suffering from brain tumor, it compresses the auditory nerve branches which results in imbalance and loss in hearing. Tumors, growths or any vascular occlusions around the auditory nerve are a common cause of inner ear nerve damage.
- Infection – If the middle ear gets infected, it too can cause damage to the auditory nerves and its tiny sensory endings known as hair cells which in turn can result in loss in hearing. Moreover, the balance mechanism of the body may also get compromised due to the infection. Viral infections too can sometimes be one of the main causes of inner ear nerve damage.
- Loud noise – If a person is exposed to loud sounds for a long time, it too can damage the inner ear nerves. People who work in a night club or in noisy factories, mines, textile mills, quarries or any other place where high levels of sounds are produced on a regular basis then it affects their ears and makes them extremely susceptible to nerve damage.
- Consuming Certain Medicines – This is a lesser known cause of inner ear nerve damage. There are certain medications which can cause damage to the inner ear nerves without the patient realizing it. NSAIDs are medications which help reduce inflammation and pain and some extremely strong antibiotics may be some of the causes that affect nerves in various ways.
Treatment for Inner Ear Nerve Damage
In most cases, inner ear nerve damage may be permanent, especially if the sensory nerve gets damaged. However, in some cases, the hearing loss is not complete and partial hearing can be preserved only if the condition is detected and treated in time.
If a tumor is the cause of inner ear nerve damage, the doctor might need to surgically remove the tumor in order to preserve hearing and plan further treatment for inner ear nerve damage. In cases of infection, appropriate medications and care can help cure the infection and in such cases, the loss in hearing in quite minimal.
In cases where inner ear damage is being caused by a specific medication, identifying and completely stopping the medicine can help prevent any further damage.
Inner ear nerve damage is a serious problem which needs to be handled properly and that too at the earliest. If you feel any kind of problem in your ear or a regular check-up reveals that your inner ear nerves have been damaged, it is necessary to seek medical opinion. Knowing the main causes and symptoms of inner ear nerve damage can help in early detection and timely treatment thus preventing further damage.