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

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

Consider people who ignore their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. How about professionals who can’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are people who are frightened of what they might hear so they avoid the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

But what action would you take if you needed more than something to get rid of a sinus infection or your annual flu vaccine? What would you do if you woke up one day with sudden and total loss of hearing in one or both ears?

There’s a good chance your hearing will not ever return if you simply attempt to put it off. Hearing specialists warn that sudden, temporary loss of hearing 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 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 often sudden hearing loss happens. 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 amount of undiagnosed cases would cause that figure to go up if you were to include them. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden loss of hearing.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Due to the fact that the onset can happen over hours or days, doctors are usually not able to learn what causes most cases. The unfortunate reality is that only about 10 percent of people 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 infections, head trauma, autoimmune diseases, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation problems, neurological disorders and disorders of the inner ear.

As stated, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the onset of sudden hearing loss gives you the best possibility to recover at least some of your normal function.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

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

As medicine has become more modern and more researchers have conducted additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the recommended method of treatment has changed. Pill form is how these steroids were historically 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.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum was as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even getting around the downsides of oral alternatives by permitting the medicine to flow right into the ear. These injections have now become a common method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

A panel of tests that may 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 important. These tests can even examine whether you can keep your balance as well as doing blood-work and several imaging techniques.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss May be on The Horizon

Researchers continue to work on the issue but frankly, there’s a lack of solid information about the cause of sudden hearing loss. 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 restoring your hearing is increased by seeking early treatment. Contact a hearing expert if you have hearing loss of any type.