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

In our modern society, delaying health care is a situation that occurs more often than we’d like to acknowledge.

Consider people who neglect their own health care so they can get protection for their children. You can say the same for the working professional who refuses to cancel a meeting to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are people who are scared of what they might hear so they steer clear of the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

But what would you do if you needed more than something to fight off a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? If you woke up one day and had complete loss of hearing in one if not both ears what would you do then?

There’s a good possibility your hearing will not ever return if you just attempt to put it off. Hearing experts warn that sudden, temporary hearing loss might advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, especially 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 individuals 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.

Many people would be shocked to find out how often sudden hearing loss happens. In fact, 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 taken into consideration, that number would be significantly higher. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans could experience sudden hearing loss every year.

The term “sudden” is somewhat of a misconception 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 sad reality is that determining a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. Out of those cases that hearing specialists can pinpoint, the most common causes are autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In situations when the cause is unknown and in most other cases, the normal course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid usage.

As medicine has advanced and more researchers have done additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the preferred method of treatment has evolved. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but for people who were worried about the side effects of medication or were unable to use oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

An injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even allowing the medication to flow right into the inner ear, without the disadvantage of the oral options. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

A panel of tests that may diagnose the inherent issue causing your sudden hearing loss can be arranged by your doctor and that’s another reason why seeking immediate medical attention is essential. These tests may include blood-work, an MRI or other methods of imaging and even an examination of your balance.

We Might 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 cause. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new advancement of infusing the drug into microspheres.

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

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