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

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

Consider the parents who consistently put the needs of their children ahead of their own, making certain their children get proactive and reactive care when needed, but failing to do the same for themselves. What about professionals who won’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are people who abide by an “ignorance is bliss” approach and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they might hear.

But what would you do if you needed more than simply this year’s preventive flu vaccine or something to deal with a sinus infection? If you woke up one day and had total hearing loss in one or both ears what would you do then?

There’s a good chance your hearing will not ever come back if you simply attempt to put it off. Hearing specialists caution that abrupt, temporary hearing loss could advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, specifically 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 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.

Many people would be surprised to find out how often sudden hearing loss occurs. Actually, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 each year who experience sudden hearing loss. With that being said, the NIDCD cautions that the amount of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to swell if you were to include them. That means that around 400,000 (or more) Americans could experience sudden hearing loss every year.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are often unable to determine the cause as it comes on over hours or even days. The unfortunate truth is that pinpointing a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. 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.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In situations when the cause is not known and in many other cases, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

The recommended method of treatment has changed since researchers have conducted more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has modernized. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but this was a challenge for individuals who were unable to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects connected with the medication.

A 2011 clinical trial supported by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be just as reliable as oral steroids, even allowing the medication to go right into the inner ear, without the disadvantage of the oral alternatives. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country routinely give these injections in the office.

Another reason why seeking prompt medical attention is so crucial is that your doctor may order a group of tests that could diagnose the fundamental issue behind your sudden hearing loss or another dangerous condition. These tests could include blood-work, an MRI or other methods of imaging and even a test of your balance.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss May be on The Horizon

Given the lack of solid information around the cause of sudden hearing loss, ongoing research goes deeper into what may be the culprit. New developments with infusing drugs into little microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what might be a safer way.

Researchers have proven that even though they might not have all the answers about sudden loss of hearing, your chances of getting your hearing back is increased by seeking early treatment. If you have hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should get in touch with a hearing specialist right away.

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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