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

More often than we would care to admit, in our modern day society, we neglect health care.

Consider people who neglect their own health care so they can get protection for their children. You can say the same for the working professional who won’t cancel a meeting to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are those who abide by an “ignorance is bliss” approach and stay away from the doctor’s office for fear of what they might hear.

But what would you do if you needed more than simply your annual preventive flu vaccine or something to deal with a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one morning with unexpected and total loss of hearing in one if not both ears?

If your answer is just to ignore it until your hearing returns, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing professionals warn that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss treated immediately, particularly if it’s at the nerve level, it could become permanent.

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the individuals who experience sudden hearing loss–the sudden 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 occur than is commonly recognized. As a matter of fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 yearly who experience sudden hearing loss. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were taken into consideration, that number would be significantly higher. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans may experience sudden loss of hearing each year.

Sudden hearing loss can actually take place over a few hours or days so the term is somewhat of a misnomer.

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Due to the fact that the onset can occur over hours or days, doctors are usually not able to learn what’s behind the cause for most cases. The unfortunate reality is that identifying a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. exposure to certain drugs, blood pressure problems, neurological disorders, infections, disorders of the inner ear and head trauma are some of the most common causes that hearing specialist can pinpoint.

As stated, getting treatment as soon as possible after the start of sudden hearing loss gives you the best chance to recover at least some of your normal hearing.

How do You Treat Sudden Hearing Loss?

In cases when the cause is unknown and in many other cases, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the goal is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.

The preferred method of treatment has changed since researchers have done more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has advanced. Pill form is how these steroids were historically prescribed, but for people who were worried about the side effects of medication or were unable to take oral steroids, this presented a challenge.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum was as effective as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even allowing the medication to flow directly into the inner ear, without the drawback of the oral options. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

Another reason why seeking immediate medical care is so important is that your doctor might order a group of tests that could diagnose the fundamental issue behind your sudden hearing loss or another dangerous condition. These tests could include blood-work, an MRI or other techniques for imaging and even an examination of your ability to balance.

We May be Getting Close to New Treatment For Sudden Hearing Loss

Researchers continue to work on the problem but truthfully, there’s a lack of concrete facts around the cause of sudden loss of hearing. New advancements with infusing drugs into little microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what might be a safer way.

While many factors of sudden hearing loss are still a mystery, researchers and medical experts have shown over and over that early treatment improves your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. If you have hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should get in touch with a hearing professional 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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