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

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

Consider people who ignore their own health care so they can get protection for their children. The same goes for the working professional who won’t cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are those 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 this year’s preventive flu shot or something to get rid of a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one day with unexpected and complete hearing loss in one if not both ears?

If your answer is to just wait it out until your hearing returns, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing specialists caution that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of right away, peculiarly if it’s at the nerve level, it may 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 rapid loss of 30 decibels or more of hearing ability–will regain some or all of their hearing naturally.

Many people would be shocked to find out how frequently sudden hearing loss happens. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to experience sudden hearing loss. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were taken into consideration, that number would go up significantly. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden hearing loss.

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

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are often not able to find the cause as it occurs over hours or even days. The sad fact is that pinpointing a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Out of those cases that hearing specialists 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 getting back at least some of your regular hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment as soon as possible.

How do You Deal With Sudden Hearing Loss?

In cases when the cause is unknown and in many other cases, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the purpose is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.

As medicine has advanced and more researchers have done additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the recommended method of treatment has changed. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but for individuals who were leery of the side effects of medication or were not able to take oral steroids, this presented a challenge.

An injection of steroids into the eardrum was as effective as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even getting around the downsides to oral alternatives by permitting the medication to go directly into the ear. These injections have now become a normal approach to treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

Another reason why seeking prompt medical attention is so crucial is that your doctor may order a group of tests that could diagnose the root issue behind your sudden loss of hearing or another dangerous condition. These tests can even test whether you can keep your balance as well as doing blood-work and several imaging techniques.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon

Researchers continue to work on the issue but frankly, there is a lack of concrete facts about the cause of sudden hearing loss. New developments with infusing drugs into small microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what might 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 getting your hearing back is improved by getting early treatment. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should contact a hearing specialist 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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