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Auditory Neuropathy

(AN; Auditory Dyssynchrony; Auditory Synaptopathy; Neuropathy, Auditory; Auditory Processing Disorder)

Definition

Auditory neuropathy (AN) occurs when the nerve system of the inner ear fails to process sounds coming from the outer ear.
The Ear
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Causes

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:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of developing AN include:

Symptoms

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.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Goals of treatment include:

Prevention

In many cases, the exact cause of AN is unknown. However, these steps may help:

RESOURCES

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association http://www.asha.org

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders http://www.nidcd.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists http://www.caslpa.ca

Ontario Association for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists http://www.osla.on.ca

References

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.

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