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

In our modern society, putting off health care is a scenario that happens more often than we’d like to acknowledge.

Think of the parents who regularly put the needs of their children before of their own, making certain their sons and daughters get proactive and reactive care when necessary, but failing to do the same for themselves. How about professionals who won’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are those who live by an “ignorance is bliss” attitude and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.

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 sudden and total hearing loss in one if not both ears?

If your answer is to just wait it out until your hearing comes back, chances are it never will. Hearing specialists warn that sudden, temporary hearing loss might advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, particularly if the damage is at the nerve level.

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the people 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, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 each year who experience sudden hearing loss. Having said that, the NIDCD warns that the amount of undiagnosed cases would cause that figure to go up if you were to include them. That means that around 400,000 (or more) Americans could experience sudden loss of hearing every year.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Because the onset can take place over hours or days, doctors are usually not able to learn what causes most cases. The unfortunate truth is that only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing 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.

Your best chance of getting back at least some of your regular hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment right away.

How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?

In cases when the cause is unknown and in many other cases, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid usage, the goal is to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling.

As medicine has become more modern and more researchers have conducted additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the recommended method of treatment has changed. Pill form is how these steroids were historically prescribed, but for individuals who were worried about the side effects of medication or were unable to take oral steroids, this presented a challenge.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be as effective as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even making it possible for the medication to flow directly into the inner ear, without the disadvantage of the oral options. These injections are now a normal approach to treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

A group of tests that might diagnose the root problem causing your sudden hearing loss can be arranged by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting immediate medical attention is crucial. These tests can even test your ability to keep your balance as well as doing blood-work and several imaging techniques.

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

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

While many factors of sudden loss of hearing continue to be a mystery, researchers and medical experts have proven over and over that early treatment improves your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. If you have hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should get in touch with a hearing specialist right away.

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