Hearing Services of Nashville

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

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

Consider people who disregard their own health care so they can get protection for their children. You can say the same for the working professional who won’t cancel a meeting to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are people who are scared of what they could hear so they steer clear of the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

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

There’s a good chance your hearing will not ever come back if you just attempt to wait it out. Hearing specialists warn that abrupt, temporary loss of hearing might progress 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 frequently sudden hearing loss happens. Actually, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 each year who experience sudden hearing loss. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were included, that number would go up significantly. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans may experience sudden loss of hearing every year.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are often unable to determine the cause as it occurs over hours or even days. The sad truth is that identifying a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Of those that hearing professionals 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 possibility of recovering at least some of your normal hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment right away.

How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?

In many cases, specifically those where the cause is not known, the normal course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid usage.

The preferred means of treatment has changed since researchers have done more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has modernized. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, 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 supported by the NIDCD found that an injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be just as effective as oral steroids, even enabling the medication to go directly into the inner ear, without the drawback of the oral options. These injections are now a common method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

Another reason why seeking immediate medical attention is so crucial is that your doctor might order a group of tests that could diagnose the root 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.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss May be on The Horizon

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

While many factors of sudden hearing loss remain a mystery, researchers and medical experts have proven 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 professional immediately.

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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