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

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

Think about people who disregard their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. The same goes for the working professional who refuses to cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are those who are afraid of what they might hear so they avoid the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

But what would you do if you needed more than just your annual preventive flu vaccine or something to ward off a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one day with sudden and complete hearing loss in one or both ears?

If your answer is just to ignore it until your hearing returns, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing experts warn that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss treated immediately, peculiarly if it’s at the nerve level, it may become permanent.

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the individuals 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 is commonly recognized. Actually, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 each year who experience sudden hearing loss. Having said that, the NIDCD warns that the amount of undiagnosed cases would cause that figure to go up if you were to include them. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans could experience sudden hearing loss every year.

The term “sudden” is a bit of a misnomer in this instance as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can take place over a few hours or up to three days.

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are frequently unable to figure out the cause as it comes on over hours or even days. The unfortunate truth is that only around 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing have a cause that can be determined. 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.

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 many cases, particularly those where the cause is unknown, the normal course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the purpose is to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling.

As medicine has become more modern and more researchers have carried out additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the preferred method of treatment has evolved. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but this was a challenge for those who were unable to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects connected with the medication.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum was as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even making it possible for the medication to flow right into the inner ear, without the drawback of the oral alternatives. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

A panel of tests that might diagnose the inherent problem causing your sudden loss of hearing can be ordered by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting immediate medical attention is essential. These tests can even check your ability to keep your balance as well as performing blood-work and several imaging methods.

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

Given the lack of solid information around the cause of sudden loss of hearing, continuing research digs deeper into what could be the cause. New developments with infusing drugs into little microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what might be a safer way.

Researchers have shown that even though they may not have all the answers regarding sudden loss of hearing, your chances of restoring your hearing is increased by seeking early treatment. If you have hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should contact a hearing expert right away.

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