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

In today’s society, neglecting health care is a situation that takes place more frequently than we’d like to acknowledge.

Consider the parents who consistently put the needs of their children in front of their own, making certain their sons and daughters obtain proactive and reactive care when required, but neglecting to do the same for themselves. What about professionals who can’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are those who are scared of what they might hear so they stay away from the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

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

If your answer is just to wait it out until your hearing returns, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing experts caution that abrupt, temporary loss of hearing might advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, particularly if the damage is at the nerve level.

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

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are usually unable to determine the cause as it comes on over hours or even days. The sad truth is that pinpointing a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. Out of those cases that hearing professionals can determine, 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.

As stated, getting 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.

How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?

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

As medicine has become more modern and more researchers have done additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the preferred method of treatment has changed. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but for people who were worried about the side effects of medication or were not able to use oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum was as effective as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even side-stepping the drawbacks of oral alternatives by letting the medication to flow directly into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

A panel of tests that could diagnose the underlying problem causing your sudden loss of hearing can be set up 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 doing blood-work and several imaging methods.

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

Researchers continue to work on the problem but truthfully, there’s a lack of solid facts around the cause of sudden loss of hearing. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.

Researchers have proven that even though they may not have all the answers regarding sudden loss of hearing, your chances of getting your hearing back is improved by getting early treatment. Contact a hearing specialist if you are experiencing hearing loss of any type.

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