Audiology Ear Care - New Brighton, MN

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

More often than we would like to admit, in our modern day society, we put off on health care.

Think of the parents who regularly put the needs of their children ahead of their own, making certain their children obtain proactive and reactive care when necessary, but neglecting to do the same for themselves. You can say the same for the working professional who refuses to cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are people who are frightened of what they could hear so they stay away from the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.

But what would you do if you needed more than just your annual preventive flu vaccine or something to deal with a sinus infection? If you woke up one day and had complete loss of hearing in one or both ears what would you do then?

If your answer is just to ignore it until your hearing returns, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing experts caution that sudden, temporary hearing loss could advance 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.

Many people would be shocked to find out how frequently sudden hearing loss occurs. 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 taken into consideration, that number would go up significantly. That means that around 400,000 (or more) Americans could develop sudden hearing loss every year.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are often unable to determine the cause because it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate fact is that only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss have a cause that can be determined. 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, getting treatment as soon as possible after the onset of sudden hearing loss gives you the best possibility of recovering at least some of your normal function.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In the majority of cases, specifically those where the cause is not known, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid usage, the purpose is to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling.

As medicine has modernized and more researchers have done additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the preferred method of treatment has changed. 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 linked to the medication.

An injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even getting around the drawbacks to oral alternatives by permitting the medicine to flow directly into the ear. These injections have now become a normal approach to treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

A group of tests that could diagnose the root problem causing your sudden hearing loss can be set up by your doctor and that’s another reason why seeking prompt medical attention is essential. These tests can even test your ability to keep your balance as well as doing blood-work and several imaging methods.

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

Researchers continue to work on the issue but frankly, there is a lack of concrete facts about the cause of sudden loss of hearing. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new advancement of infusing the drug into microspheres.

While many aspects of sudden loss of hearing continue to be a mystery, researchers and medical experts have shown repeatedly that early treatment improves your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. Make an appointment with a hearing professional if you are experiencing hearing loss of any kind.

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