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

More often than we would care to admit, in our modern day society, we neglect health care.

Consider the parents who regularly put the needs of their children before of their own, ensuring their sons and daughters get proactive and reactive care when necessary, but failing to do the same for themselves. What about professionals who can’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are people who are afraid of what they might hear so they stay away from the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.

But what would you do if you needed more than just this year’s preventive flu shot or something to ward off a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one day with unexpected and complete loss of hearing in one or both ears?

If your answer is to just ignore it until your hearing returns, chances are it never will. Hearing professionals caution that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss treated immediately, especially 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 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 surprised to know how frequently 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 go up significantly. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden hearing loss.

Sudden hearing loss can actually happen over a few hours or days so the term is somewhat of a misnomer.

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are often unable to find the cause as it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate fact is that determining a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. exposure to certain drugs, blood pressure problems, neurological disorders, infections, disorders of the inner ear and head trauma are some of the most common causes that hearing specialist can pinpoint.

As stated, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the onset of sudden hearing loss gives you the best possibility to recover at least some of your normal function.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In cases when the cause is not known and in many other cases, the usual course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. Minimizing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid usage.

The preferred method of treatment has changed 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 people who were leery of the side effects of medication or were unable to take oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

A 2011 clinical trial backed by the NIDCD found that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as reliable as oral steroids, even enabling the medication to go straight into the inner ear, without the drawback of the oral options. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

A panel of tests that could diagnose the underlying issue causing your sudden hearing loss can be set up by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting immediate medical attention is essential. These tests could include blood-work, an MRI or other methods of imaging and even a test of your ability to balance.

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 about the cause of sudden hearing loss. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.

While some factors of sudden hearing loss are still a mystery, researchers and medical specialists have shown over and over that early treatment improves your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. If you have hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should get in touch with a hearing professional right away.

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