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Center For Better Hearing - Glens Falls, NY

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

In our modern society, neglecting health care is a situation that happens more often than we’d like to admit.

Think about people who disregard their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. You can say the same for the working professional who won’t cancel a meeting to fit 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 just your annual preventive flu vaccine or something to deal with a sinus infection? If you woke up one morning and had complete hearing loss in one or both ears what would you do then?

If your answer is to just wait it out until your hearing comes back, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing experts warn that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of right away, particularly if it’s at the nerve level, it could become permanent.

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 happen than some might believe. In fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 each year 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 around 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden hearing loss.

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

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are often unable to determine the cause because it comes on over hours or even days. The unfortunate truth is that determining a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. 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 chance to recover at least some of your normal hearing.

How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?

In situations when the cause is not known and in most other cases, the usual course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

As medicine has modernized and more researchers have carried out additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the preferred method of treatment has changed. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but for people who were leery of the side effects of medication or were not able to use oral steroids, this presented a challenge.

A 2011 clinical trial established by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as reliable as oral steroids, even side-stepping the downsides to oral alternatives by enabling the medication to flow right into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

A panel of tests that might diagnose the root issue causing your sudden hearing loss can be arranged by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting prompt 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 concrete information about the cause of sudden loss of hearing, ongoing research digs deeper into what could be the culprit. New developments with infusing drugs into small microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what might be a safer way.

Researchers have shown that even though they might not have all the answers about sudden loss of hearing, your chances of getting your hearing back is increased by getting early treatment. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist if you have hearing loss of any type.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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