Edison Stanford Intelligent Hearing - Salt Lake City, Draper, and Provo, UT

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

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

Consider the parents who consistently put the needs of their children before of their own, making certain their sons and daughters receive proactive and reactive care when necessary, but failing to do the same for themselves. What about professionals who can’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are individuals who are frightened of what they might 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 shot or something to ward off a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one day with unexpected and complete hearing loss in one or both ears?

If your answer is just to ignore it until your hearing comes back, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing experts caution that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss treated right away, especially 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 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. In 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 included, that number would go up significantly. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans might experience sudden hearing loss each year.

The term “sudden” is a bit of a misnomer in this case as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can occur over several 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 happens over hours or even days. The sad reality is that only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss have a cause that can be identified. Out of those cases that hearing specialists can pinpoint, the most common causes are autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.

Your best chance of getting back at least some of your regular hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment as soon as possible.

How do You Treat Sudden Hearing Loss?

In the majority of cases, especially those where the cause is not known, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

As medicine has modernized and more researchers have carried out additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the preferred 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 use oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

A 2011 clinical trial supported by the NIDCD discovered that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as effective as oral steroids, even making it possible for the medication to flow straight 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.

A group of tests that could diagnose the inherent issue causing your sudden loss of hearing can be arranged by your doctor and that’s another reason why seeking prompt medical attention is essential. These tests can even check your ability to keep your balance as well as doing blood-work and several imaging techniques.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon

Given the lack of definite information about the cause of sudden hearing loss, continuing research digs deeper into what could be the culprit. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.

While many factors of sudden loss of hearing remain a mystery, researchers and medical specialists have proven repeatedly that early treatment increases your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist if you have hearing loss of any type.

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