Cedar Audiology Associates - Cleveland, OH

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

More often than we would like to admit, in today’s society, we put off on health care.

Consider the parents who consistently put the needs of their children before of their own, making certain their sons and daughters receive proactive and reactive care when needed, but neglecting to do the same for themselves. How about professionals who won’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are people who live by an “ignorance is bliss” approach and stay away from the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.

But what would you do if you needed more than simply your annual preventive flu vaccine or something to get rid of a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one morning with sudden and total hearing loss in one or both ears?

If your answer is just to ignore it until your hearing comes back, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing experts warn that abrupt, temporary loss of hearing could advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, especially 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 individuals who experience sudden hearing loss–the rapid 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, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 yearly who experience sudden hearing loss. With that being said, the NIDCD warns that the quantity of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to swell if you were to include them. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans may experience sudden hearing loss each year.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Due to the fact that the onset can take place over hours or days, doctors are seldom able to learn what’s behind the cause for most cases. The unfortunate reality is that only around 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing have a cause that can be determined. Of those that hearing professionals can pinpoint, 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 normal hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment as soon as possible.

How do You Treat Sudden Hearing Loss?

In cases when the cause is unknown and in most other cases, the normal course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. Minimizing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid usage.

The recommended means of treatment has changed since researchers have carried out more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has advanced. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but this presented a challenge for people 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 reliable as oral steroids, even side-stepping the downsides to oral alternatives by enabling the medication to flow straight into the ear. These injections are now 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 important is that your doctor might order a panel of tests that could diagnose the fundamental issue behind your sudden hearing loss or another dangerous condition. These tests can even determine whether you can keep your balance as well as doing blood-work and several imaging techniques.

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

Researchers continue to work on the issue but truthfully, there’s a lack of solid facts around the cause of sudden hearing loss. New advancements with infusing drugs into tiny microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what could be a safer way.

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

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