Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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

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

Consider people who neglect their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. What about professionals who can’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are individuals who are afraid of what they might hear so they avoid the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.

But what would you do if you needed more than just your annual preventive flu vaccine or something to deal with a sinus infection? If you woke up one morning and had total loss of hearing in one if not both ears what would you do then?

If your answer is just to ignore it until your hearing comes back, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing professionals warn that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of immediately, particularly if it’s at the nerve level, it could become permanent.

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.

Sudden hearing loss is more likely to happen than some might believe. As a matter of fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six individuals for every 5,000 yearly who experience sudden hearing loss. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were taken into consideration, that number would be significantly higher. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans could develop sudden hearing loss each year.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Because the onset can take place over hours or days, doctors are usually not able to learn what causes most cases. The sad reality is that only around 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss have a cause that can be identified. exposure to certain drugs, blood pressure problems, neurological disorders, infections, disorders of the inner ear and head trauma are some of the most common causes that hearing specialist can pinpoint.

As stated, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the onset of sudden hearing loss gives you the best chance of recovering at least some of your normal function.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

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

As medicine has modernized and more researchers have conducted additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the recommended method of treatment has evolved. 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 connected with the medication.

A 2011 clinical trial supported by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as effective as oral steroids, even making it possible for the medication to flow directly into the inner ear, without the drawback of the oral alternatives. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country routinely give these injections in the office.

Another reason why getting prompt medical care is so crucial is that your doctor might order a group of tests that could diagnose the fundamental problem behind your sudden loss of hearing or another dangerous condition. These tests can even determine your ability to keep your balance as well as doing blood-work and several imaging techniques.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss May be on The Horizon

Researchers continue to work on the issue but frankly, there is 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 some aspects of sudden loss of hearing are still a mystery, researchers and medical experts have shown over and over that early treatment improves your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should contact a hearing specialist immediately.

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