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

In today’s society, putting off health care is a scenario that happens more often than we’d like to admit.

Think about people who disregard their own health care so they can get protection for their children. How about professionals who can’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are people who are afraid of what they could hear so they steer clear of the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.

But what would you do if you required more than something to deal with a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? What would you do if you woke up one morning with unexpected and total loss of hearing in one or both ears?

If your answer is to just wait it out until your hearing returns, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing experts caution that abrupt, temporary hearing loss could progress 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.

Sudden hearing loss is more likely to occur than some might believe. Actually, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 yearly who experience sudden hearing loss. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were included, that number would be significantly higher. This means that this year about 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden loss of hearing.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are usually not able to figure out the cause because it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate fact is that only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss have a cause that can be identified. Infections, head trauma, autoimmune diseases, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation problems, neurological disorders and disorders of the inner ear 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 chance of recovering at least some of your normal hearing.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In the majority of cases, specifically those where the cause is not known, the normal course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the objective is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.

The preferred means of treatment has changed since researchers have conducted more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has modernized. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this presented a challenge for those who were unable to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects connected with the medication.

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

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

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon

Researchers continue to work on the issue but truthfully, there is a lack of solid facts around the cause of sudden hearing loss. New developments with infusing drugs into small microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what may be a safer way.

Researchers have shown that even though they may not have all the answers about sudden hearing loss, your chances of restoring your hearing is improved by getting early treatment. Make an appointment with a hearing expert if you are experiencing hearing loss of any type.

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