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

More often than we would care to admit, in today’s society, we put off on health care.

Consider the parents who continually put the needs of their children before of their own, making sure their kids receive proactive and reactive care when necessary, but failing to do the same for themselves. How about professionals who can’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are people who live by an “ignorance is bliss” approach and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.

But what action would you take if you required more than something to get rid of a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? If you woke up one day and had total loss of hearing in one or both ears what would you do then?

There’s a good chance your hearing will not ever return if you simply attempt to put it off. Hearing experts warn that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of immediately, especially if it’s at the nerve level, it could become permanent.

Sudden Hearing Loss, What is it?

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 occur than is commonly recognized. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to experience sudden loss of hearing. With that being said, the NIDCD warns that the quantity of undiagnosed cases would cause that figure to swell if you were to include them. This means that this year about 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden hearing loss.

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

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are usually unable to figure out the cause because it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate reality is that only around 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss have a cause that can be determined. 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 mentioned, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the start of sudden hearing loss gives you the best possibility of recovering at least some of your normal hearing.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In many cases, specifically those where the cause is unknown, the normal 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 conducted additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the recommended method of treatment has evolved. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but for individuals who were worried about the side effects of medication or were not able to take oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

A 2011 clinical trial supported by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as reliable as oral steroids, even getting around the downsides to oral alternatives by enabling the medicine to go right into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country routinely give these injections in the office.

A group of tests that may diagnose the underlying 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 could include blood-work, an MRI or other techniques for imaging and even an examination of your ability to balance.

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

Given the lack of solid information about the cause of sudden hearing loss, continuing research goes deeper into what may be the cause. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new advancement of infusing the drug into microspheres.

While some factors of sudden hearing loss continue to be a mystery, researchers and medical professionals have shown repeatedly that early treatment increases your chances of getting back the hearing you’ve lost. Contact a hearing specialist if you have hearing loss of any kind.

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