More frequently than we would care to admit, in our modern day society, we neglect health care.
Think about people who disregard their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. How about professionals who won’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are those who abide by an “ignorance is bliss” approach 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 simply your annual preventive flu shot or something to get rid of a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one morning with unexpected and complete loss of hearing in one if not both ears?
There’s a good chance your hearing will never come back if you just attempt to wait it out. Hearing experts caution that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss treated right away, particularly if it’s at the nerve level, it may 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.
Many people would be shocked to find out how frequently sudden hearing loss occurs. As a matter of 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 included, that number would be significantly higher. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans may develop sudden loss of hearing every year.
The term “sudden” is somewhat of a misnomer in this case as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can take place over several hours or up to three days.
Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?
Doctors are frequently not able to determine the cause because it occurs over hours or even days. The unfortunate fact is that only around 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing have a cause that can be determined. Of those that hearing professionals can determine, the most common causes include autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.
Your best chance of getting back 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 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 goal is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.
The recommended method of treatment has changed since researchers have carried out more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has advanced. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this was a challenge for people who were unable to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects associated with the medication.
An injection of steroids through 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 downside 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 loss of hearing can be ordered by your doctor and that’s another reason why seeking prompt medical attention is important. These tests can even test your ability to keep your balance as well as performing blood-work and several imaging methods.
We May be Getting Close to New Treatment For Sudden Hearing Loss
Researchers continue to work on the problem but frankly, there’s a lack of solid information around the cause of sudden loss of hearing. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.
Researchers have proven that even though they may not have all the answers about sudden hearing loss, your chances of restoring your hearing is increased by getting early treatment. If you have hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should contact a hearing specialist right away.