Quality Hearing Systems - Maplewood, MN

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

In today’s society, putting off health care is a situation that occurs more frequently than we’d like to admit.

Think about people who disregard their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. The same goes 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” attitude and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they might hear.

But what action would you take if you needed more than something to fight off a sinus infection or your annual flu vaccine? If you woke up one morning and had complete hearing loss in one if not both ears what would you do then?

There’s a good possibility your hearing will not ever come back if you simply try to put it off. Hearing specialists caution that sudden, temporary hearing loss could progress to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, particularly 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 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.

Sudden hearing loss is more likely to occur than is commonly recognized. Actually, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 yearly who experience sudden hearing loss. Having said that, the NIDCD cautions that the number of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to swell if you were to include them. This means that this year about 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden hearing loss.

Sudden hearing loss can actually occur over several hours or days so the term is a bit of a misnomer.

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are often not able to find the cause as it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate fact is that pinpointing a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of people 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 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.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In cases when the cause is unknown and in many other cases, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid usage, the objective is to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling.

As medicine has advanced and more researchers have done additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the preferred method of treatment has evolved. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this was a challenge for those who were unable to take oral steroids and those who were worried about the side effects connected with the medication.

A 2011 clinical trial supported by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be just as reliable as oral steroids, even side-stepping the downsides of oral alternatives by letting the medication to flow directly into the ear. 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 hearing loss can be arranged by your doctor and that’s another reason why seeking immediate medical attention is crucial. These tests could include blood-work, an MRI or other techniques for imaging and even a test of your balance.

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

Researchers continue to work on the problem but frankly, there is a lack of concrete facts about the cause of sudden hearing loss. New developments with infusing drugs into tiny microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what could be a safer way.

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