Hearing Aids by Tricia Leagjeld - Redmond, OR

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

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

Consider people who neglect their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. The same goes for the working professional who refuses to cancel a meeting to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are those who are scared of what they might hear so they steer clear of the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

But what action would you take if you needed more than something to deal with a sinus infection or your annual flu vaccine? What would you do if you woke up one day with sudden 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 try to wait it out. Hearing specialists caution that sudden, temporary hearing loss could advance 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 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. Having said that, the NIDCD warns that the quantity of undiagnosed cases would cause that figure to go up if you were to include them. That means that around 400,000 (or more) Americans could develop sudden loss of hearing every year.

The term “sudden” is a bit of a misnomer in this case as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can occur over several hours or up to three days.

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are often not able to figure out the cause as it occurs over hours or even days. The sad reality is that identifying a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Infections, head trauma, autoimmune diseases, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation problems, neurological disorders and disorders of the inner ear are some of the most common causes that hearing specialist can pinpoint.

Your best possibility of recovering at least some of your regular hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment right away.

How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?

In situations when the cause is not known and in many other cases, the normal course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. As with all steroid usage, the purpose is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.

As medicine has modernized and more researchers have conducted additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the preferred method of treatment has changed. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but for individuals who were leery of the side effects of medication or were unable to use oral steroids, this presented a challenge.

A 2011 clinical trial established by the NIDCD found that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as effective as oral steroids, even side-stepping the downsides to oral alternatives by permitting the medicine to go right 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 seeking prompt medical care is so crucial is that your doctor might order a panel of tests that could diagnose the underlying 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 balance.

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

Given the lack of solid information around the cause of sudden loss of hearing, continuing research digs deeper into what could be the cause. New advancements with infusing drugs into little microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what might be a safer way.

Researchers have shown that even though they may not have all the answers concerning sudden hearing loss, your chances of getting your hearing back is improved by seeking early treatment. If you have hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should get in touch with a hearing specialist right away.

Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss. Call Us Today