Coastal Hearing Aid Center - Encinitas, CA

Image of someone going to ER to treat sudden hearing loss.

In today’s society, delaying health care is a scenario that takes place more frequently than we’d like to acknowledge.

Think about people who neglect their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. What about professionals who won’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are individuals who are scared of what they might hear so they stay away from the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.

But what would you do if you needed more than simply your annual preventive flu vaccine or something to ward off a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one morning with unexpected and complete hearing loss in one or both ears?

There’s a good chance your hearing will never come back if you simply attempt to put it off. Hearing specialists caution that sudden, temporary hearing loss might advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, specifically if the damage is at the nerve level.

Sudden Hearing Loss, What is it?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the individuals who experience sudden hearing loss–the rapid loss of 30 decibels or more of hearing ability–will regain some or all of their hearing naturally.

Sudden hearing loss is more likely to happen than is commonly recognized. As a matter of fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 each year who experience sudden hearing loss. That said, the NIDCD cautions that the amount of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to swell if you were to include them. That means that around 400,000 (or more) Americans could develop sudden loss of hearing every year.

The term “sudden” is a bit of a misconception in this situation as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can occur over a few hours or up to three days.

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Due to the fact that the onset can happen over hours or days, doctors are usually not able to learn what’s behind the cause for most cases. The sad truth is that identifying a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. Of those that hearing specialists can pinpoint, the most common causes include infections, head trauma, autoimmune diseases, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation problems, neurological disorders and disorders of the inner ear.

Your best possibility of getting back at least some of your normal hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment right away.

How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?

In many cases, especially those where the cause is not known, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

The recommended means of treatment has changed since researchers have done more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has modernized. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this presented a challenge for people who were unable to take oral steroids and those who were worried about the side effects associated with the medication.

A 2011 clinical trial backed by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be just as reliable as oral steroids, even making it possible for the medication to go straight into the inner ear, without the drawback of the oral alternatives. These injections are now a normal approach to treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

A panel of tests that might diagnose the underlying problem causing your sudden loss of hearing can be ordered by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting immediate medical attention is crucial. These tests may include blood-work, an MRI or other methods of imaging and even a test of your ability to balance.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon

Given the lack of concrete information about the cause of sudden hearing loss, ongoing research digs deeper into what may be the cause. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.

Researchers have proven that even though they may not have all the answers concerning sudden loss of hearing, your chances of getting your hearing back is increased by seeking early treatment. If you have hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should get in touch with a hearing specialist immediately.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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