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

In today’s society, neglecting health care is a scenario that occurs more frequently than we’d like to admit.

Consider people who ignore 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 squeeze in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are people who live by an “ignorance is bliss” approach and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.

But what would you do if you required more than something to deal with a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? What would you do if you woke up one day with unexpected and complete loss of hearing in one if not both ears?

There’s a good chance your hearing will not ever come back if you simply attempt to wait it out. Hearing experts warn that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of immediately, particularly 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 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 often 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. With that being said, the NIDCD cautions that the number of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to swell if you were to include them. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans could experience sudden loss of hearing each year.

The term “sudden” is a bit 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?

Due to the fact that the onset can happen over hours or days, doctors are seldom able to learn what causes most cases. The unfortunate truth is that identifying a cause is possible in only 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.

Your best possibility of getting back at least some of your regular hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment as soon as possible.

How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?

In most cases, especially those where the cause is not known, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Minimizing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

As medicine has modernized and more researchers have done additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the recommended method of treatment has evolved. Pill form is how these steroids were historically prescribed, but for individuals who were leery of the side effects of medication or were unable to take oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be as effective as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even allowing the medication to flow directly into the inner ear, without the downside of the oral options. These injections have now become a normal approach to treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

A group 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 getting prompt medical attention is important. These tests may include blood-work, an MRI or other techniques for 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 digs deeper into what may be the culprit. New advancements with infusing drugs into tiny microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what might be a safer way.

While many aspects of sudden hearing loss are still a mystery, researchers and medical specialists have shown over and over that early treatment improves your chances of getting back the hearing you’ve lost. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should contact a hearing expert immediately.

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