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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 put off on health care.

Consider the parents who regularly put the needs of their children in front of their own, making sure their children receive proactive and reactive care when required, but failing to do the same for themselves. How about professionals who won’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. 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 action would you take if you needed more than something to get rid of a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? What would you do if you woke up one day with unexpected and total hearing loss in one if not both ears?

There’s a good possibility your hearing will not ever come back if you simply attempt to put it off. Hearing experts warn that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss treated right away, particularly if it’s at the nerve level, it might become permanent.

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the people 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 shocked to know how often sudden hearing loss occurs. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to experience sudden loss of hearing. That said, the NIDCD cautions that the quantity of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to go up if you were to include them. That means that around 400,000 (or more) Americans could develop sudden hearing loss each year.

Sudden hearing loss can actually occur over a few hours or days so the term is somewhat of a misconception.

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are frequently not able to determine the cause as it comes on over hours or even days. The sad reality is that determining a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. 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 mentioned, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the start of sudden hearing loss gives you the best possibility to recover at least some of your normal hearing.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In many cases, particularly those where the cause is not known, the usual course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. As with all steroid usage, the goal is to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling.

As medicine has modernized and more researchers have carried out additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the preferred method of treatment has changed. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but for individuals who were worried about the side effects of medication or were not able to take oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

An injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even making it possible for the medication to flow straight into the inner ear, without the disadvantage of the oral alternatives. These injections are now a common method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

Another reason why seeking immediate medical attention is so important is that your doctor might order a group 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 a test of your ability to balance.

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

Given the lack of solid information around the cause of sudden hearing loss, continuing research goes deeper into what could be the cause. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.

Researchers have shown that even though they might not have all the answers concerning sudden loss of hearing, your chances of restoring your hearing is improved by seeking early treatment. Contact a hearing expert if you have hearing loss of any type.

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.