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

More frequently than we would like to admit, in our modern day society, we neglect health care.

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 are frightened of what they could hear so they stay away from the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

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

If your answer is to just wait it out until your hearing returns, chances are it never will. Hearing experts caution that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of right away, particularly if it’s at the nerve level, it could become permanent.

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.

Many people would be surprised to find out how frequently sudden hearing loss happens. As a matter of fact, 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 warns that the amount of undiagnosed cases would cause that figure to go up if you were to include them. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans may experience sudden loss of hearing each year.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Because the onset can happen over hours or days, doctors are seldom able to discover what’s behind the cause for most cases. The sad truth is that determining a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Of those that hearing experts can pinpoint, the most common causes include autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In many cases, specifically those where the cause is unknown, the normal course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the purpose is to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling.

As medicine has advanced and more researchers have carried out additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the preferred method of treatment has changed. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but for people who were worried about the side effects of medication or were not able to use oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

An injection of steroids into the eardrum was as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even making it possible for the medication to go straight into the inner ear, without the drawback of the oral options. These injections have now become a common method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

Another reason why getting immediate medical attention is so crucial is that your doctor may order a panel of tests that could diagnose the root problem behind your sudden hearing loss or another dangerous condition. These tests can even determine whether you can keep your balance as well as performing blood-work and several imaging methods.

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

Given the lack of solid information about the cause of sudden hearing loss, continuing research digs deeper into what could be the culprit. New developments with infusing drugs into tiny microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what may be a safer way.

Researchers have proven that even though they may not have all the answers concerning sudden loss of hearing, your chances of restoring your hearing is increased by getting early treatment. Make an appointment with a hearing specialist if you are experiencing 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.
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