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

In our modern society, delaying health care is a scenario that takes place more frequently than we’d like to admit.

Consider people who ignore their own health care so they can get 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 people who are afraid of what they could hear so they avoid the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

But what would you do if you needed more than simply this year’s preventive flu vaccine 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 chance your hearing will never return if you simply attempt to put it off. Hearing experts warn that sudden, temporary loss of hearing might progress to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, specifically 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.

Sudden hearing loss is more likely to occur than some might believe. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to experience sudden hearing loss. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were taken into consideration, that number would go up significantly. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans may experience sudden loss of hearing each year.

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

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are usually not able to figure out the cause because it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate reality is that only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss have a cause that can be identified. Of those that hearing specialists can determine, 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 recovering at least some of your regular hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment as soon as possible.

How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?

In cases when the cause is not known and in most other cases, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

The preferred means of treatment has evolved since researchers have conducted more studies on sudden hearing loss 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.

A 2011 clinical trial backed by the NIDCD found that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as effective as oral steroids, even getting around the downsides of oral alternatives by enabling the medication to go straight into the ear. These injections have now become a normal method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

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

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

Researchers continue to work on the issue but frankly, there’s a lack of solid facts around the cause of sudden loss of hearing. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.

While many factors of sudden loss of hearing remain a mystery, researchers and medical experts have proven over and over that early treatment increases your chances of getting back the hearing you’ve lost. If you have hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should contact a hearing expert 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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