HEARING TIPS

Early Treatment Gives Hope to Those With Sudden Hearing Loss

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

More frequently than we would like to admit, in today’s society, we put off on health care.

Think of the parents who continually put the needs of their children before of their own, ensuring their kids get proactive and reactive care when necessary, 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 scared of what they could hear so they steer clear of the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.

But what would you do if you needed more than simply your annual preventive flu shot or something to get rid of a sinus infection? If you woke up one day and had complete hearing loss 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 try to wait it out. Hearing experts warn that abrupt, temporary loss of hearing might progress to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, specifically 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 surprised to know how frequently sudden hearing loss happens. As a matter of fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six individuals 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 go up significantly. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans could develop sudden hearing loss every year.

The term “sudden” is a bit of a misconception in this instance 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 identifying a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Of those that hearing professionals can determine, the most common causes are infections, head trauma, autoimmune diseases, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation problems, neurological disorders and disorders of the inner ear.

As mentioned, getting treatment as soon as possible after the start of sudden hearing loss gives you the best chance to recover at least some of your normal hearing.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In many cases, specifically those where the cause is not known, the normal course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

The recommended method of treatment has changed since researchers have carried out more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has modernized. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but for individuals who were worried about the side effects of medication or were not able to use oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

A 2011 clinical trial backed by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be just as effective as oral steroids, even side-stepping the downsides of oral alternatives by enabling the medication to go directly into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

A group of tests that might diagnose the underlying problem causing your sudden loss of hearing can be set up by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting immediate medical attention is important. These tests may include blood-work, an MRI or other methods of imaging and even an examination of your balance.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon

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

Researchers have proven that even though they may not have all the answers regarding sudden loss of hearing, your chances of getting your hearing back is increased by seeking early treatment. Contact a hearing specialist if you are experiencing hearing loss of any type.

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