Hearing Associates of Libertyville, IL

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 often than we’d like to acknowledge.

Think of the parents who consistently put the needs of their children ahead of their own, making certain their sons and daughters get proactive and reactive care when required, but failing to do the same for themselves. The same goes for the working professional who won’t cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are those who are frightened of what they could 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 annual flu vaccine? What would you do if you woke up one day with sudden and complete hearing loss in one if not both ears?

There’s a good possibility your hearing will not ever return if you just attempt to put it off. Hearing specialists warn that sudden, temporary hearing loss could progress 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 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 happen than is commonly recognized. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to 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 around 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden hearing loss.

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

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Due to the fact that the onset can take place over hours or days, doctors are usually not able to discover what causes most cases. The sad reality is that only around 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing have a cause that can be identified. Out of those cases that hearing experts can determine, the most common causes are autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.

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

How do You Treat Sudden Hearing Loss?

In most cases, specifically those where the cause is unknown, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid usage, the purpose is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.

The recommended means of treatment has changed since researchers have done more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has advanced. Pill form is how these steroids were historically prescribed, but this presented a challenge for those who were unable to take oral steroids and those who were worried about the side effects associated with the medication.

An injection of steroids into 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 go straight into the inner ear, without the disadvantage of the oral alternatives. These injections have now become a common approach to treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

Another reason why seeking prompt medical attention is so crucial is that your doctor may order a panel of tests that could diagnose the underlying problem behind your sudden loss of hearing or another threatening condition. These tests could include blood-work, an MRI or other techniques for imaging and even an examination of your balance.

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

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

Researchers have proven that even though they may not have all the answers concerning sudden loss of hearing, your chances of getting your hearing back is improved by getting early treatment. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should get in touch with a hearing professional right away.

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