Of the several different types of hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss is the most common. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, it occurs when something damages either the auditory nerve or the inner ear.
There are several different ways that hearing loss can occur due to a work-related injury.
Auditory nerve damage
If the auditory nerve becomes completely severed, it can no longer transmit sound impulses from the inner ear to the brain for interpretation. If there is partial severing of the nerve, it may not be able to transmit the impulses as well. Damage to the auditory nerve may result from a traumatic head injury. For example, if there is a fracture of the temporal bone, located along the side of the skull, a broken fragment may sever the auditory nerve.
Inner ear damage
The cochlea is a spiral-shaped structure in the inner ear that looks like a snail shell. All along its interior are tiny hairs called cilia. When sound waves enter the inner ear, they cause the cilia to vibrate. Each of these hair cells connects to a nerve ending that turns the vibration into an electrical impulse that travels to the brain via the auditory nerve.
Exposure to loud noises can damage the cilia to the point where they either stop vibrating completely, resulting in hearing loss, or vibrate inappropriately, causing tinnitus, a ringing sensation in the ears.
Damage to the inner ear can occur due to a single exposure to a very loud noise or prolonged exposure to elevated noise levels, such as machinery in a manufacturing plant may cause.