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

In our modern society, neglecting health care is a situation that happens more often than we’d like to admit.

Think of the parents who continually put the needs of their children ahead of their own, making sure their sons and daughters receive proactive and reactive care when required, but neglecting to do the same for themselves. How about professionals who can’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to 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 just this year’s preventive flu shot or something to ward off a sinus infection? If you woke up one day and had total loss of hearing in one or both ears what would you do then?

If your answer is to just ignore it until your hearing returns, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing experts warn that abrupt, temporary loss of hearing might advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, specifically 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 is commonly recognized. As a matter of fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six individuals for every 5,000 each year who experience sudden hearing loss. With that being said, the NIDCD cautions that the amount of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to swell if you were to include them. This means that this year around 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 frequently unable to find the cause because it comes on over hours or even days. The unfortunate truth is that determining a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. 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 getting back at least some of your normal hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment as soon as possible.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In the majority of cases, especially those where the cause is unknown, the normal course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. Minimizing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

The recommended method of treatment has evolved since researchers have done more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has advanced. Pill form is how these steroids were historically prescribed, but this presented a challenge for individuals who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects associated with the medication.

A 2011 clinical trial supported by the NIDCD discovered that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as reliable as oral steroids, even side-stepping the downsides to oral alternatives by allowing the medicine to flow right into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country routinely give these injections in the office.

Another reason why getting immediate medical care is so crucial is that your doctor might order a group of tests that could diagnose the underlying problem behind your sudden hearing loss or another dangerous condition. These tests can even examine your ability to 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

Researchers continue to work on the problem but truthfully, there’s a lack of concrete facts around the cause of sudden loss of hearing. New advancements with infusing drugs into small microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what may be a safer way.

Researchers have proven that even though they might not have all the answers regarding sudden loss of hearing, your chances of getting your hearing back is increased by seeking early treatment. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should contact a hearing specialist immediately.

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