Folsom Hearing Aid Center - Folsom and Placerville, CA

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

More frequently 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. How about professionals who can’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are people who abide by an “ignorance is bliss” attitude and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.

But what would you do if you needed more than simply this year’s preventive flu shot or something to deal with a sinus infection? If you woke up one day and had complete loss of hearing in one or both ears what would you do then?

There’s a good possibility your hearing will not ever return if you just attempt to wait it out. Hearing experts caution that abrupt, temporary hearing loss might advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, particularly if the damage is at the nerve level.

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.

Many people would be surprised to know how frequently sudden hearing loss happens. As a matter of fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six individuals 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. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden hearing loss.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are frequently not able to figure out the cause as it happens over hours or even days. The sad truth is that only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing have a cause that can be identified. Out of those cases that hearing specialists can pinpoint, the most common causes are autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.

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

How do You Deal With Sudden Hearing Loss?

In situations when the cause is unknown and in most other cases, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the purpose is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.

The preferred method of treatment has changed since researchers have conducted more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has modernized. Pill form is how these steroids were historically prescribed, but this presented a challenge for those who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were worried about the side effects associated with the medication.

An injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even allowing the medication to go straight into the inner ear, without the downside of the oral alternatives. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country routinely give these injections in the office.

Another reason why getting prompt medical attention is so important is that your doctor might order a panel of tests that could diagnose the underlying problem behind your sudden hearing loss or another dangerous condition. These tests may include blood-work, an MRI or other methods of imaging and even an examination of your balance.

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

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

While some aspects of sudden loss of hearing remain a mystery, researchers and medical experts have shown repeatedly that early treatment increases your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should get in touch with a hearing professional immediately.