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

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

Consider people who neglect their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. The same goes for the working professional who refuses to cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are those who abide by an “ignorance is bliss” attitude and stay away from the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.

But what would you do if you needed more than something to deal with a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? If you woke up one morning and had total hearing loss in one if not 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 professionals warn that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of immediately, especially if it’s at the nerve level, it might become permanent.

Sudden Hearing Loss, What is it?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the individuals 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 know how often sudden hearing loss occurs. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to experience sudden loss of hearing. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were taken into consideration, that number would be significantly higher. This means that this year about 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden loss of hearing.

The term “sudden” is somewhat 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.

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are frequently unable to figure out the cause because it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate reality 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.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In most cases, particularly those where the cause is not known, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the objective is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.

The recommended means of treatment has evolved since researchers have conducted more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has advanced. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but for individuals who were leery of the side effects of medication or were not able to take 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 making it possible for the medication to go right into the inner ear, without the downside of the oral options. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country routinely give these injections in the office.

Another reason why getting immediate medical care is so important is that your doctor might order a panel of tests that could diagnose the underlying issue behind your sudden loss of hearing or another threatening condition. These tests may include blood-work, an MRI or other methods of imaging and even an examination of your balance.

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

Given the lack of solid information around the cause of sudden hearing loss, continuing research goes deeper into what could be the cause. New advancements with infusing drugs into tiny microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what could be a safer way.

Researchers have shown that even though they may not have all the answers regarding sudden loss of hearing, your chances of restoring your hearing is improved by getting early treatment. Schedule an appointment with a hearing professional if you are experiencing hearing loss of any kind.

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