Sudden Hearing Loss
What You Should Do About Sudden Hearing Loss
When people think about hearing loss they often think about the gradual loss that occurs with age. Most people don’t realize that sudden hearing loss is also a problem and that age rarely has anything to do with it. Sudden deafness, also referred to as sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), is a sudden and rapid loss of hearing that requires immediate attention from an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
About Sudden Hearing Loss
People who develop true sudden hearing loss may either lose hearing right away or it may gradually disappear over three days. Most people who develop sudden hearing loss notice an audible pop sound before they lose their hearing. Some people may not immediately realize that they’ve lost significant hearing in one ear until they have a conversation with someone or pick up the phone to talk to someone. Some people experience ringing in the ears or dizziness after the audible “pop”.
Causes of Sudden Hearing Loss
Several things could cause sudden hearing loss. Impacted ear wax, being exposed to loud, sudden noise or bacterial or viral infection can cause SSHL. Sometimes an autoimmune disease or certain medications can also put you at risk. In some cases, sudden hearing loss could be a sign of a more serious underlying problem such as a stroke or head injury. Of course, your doctor will look for other symptoms that could be signs of an underlying health problem.
How Sudden Hearing Loss is Detected
More often than not, sudden hearing loss only occurs in one ear. A simple hearing test is performed to check for and diagnose SSHL. To be diagnosed with SSHL the test results must show a hearing loss of 30 decibels or more across three different frequencies. To put things into perspective: If you experience a hearing loss of 30 decibels, this means that when you’re having a normal conversation with someone it now sounds as if everyone around you is whispering.
Can Hearing Return?
The good news is that about half of people with sudden hearing loss will recover some degree of hearing in their ear within a couple of weeks. Of course, you must seek care from a qualified otolaryngologist to make sure you are getting the proper treatment needed to recover your hearing. Sometimes corticosteroids are prescribed to reduce inflammation and swelling in the ear. If an underlying health problem is to blame, we can also work with other doctors and specialists to make sure that this problem is properly treated to improve your hearing.
Have You Experienced Sudden Hearing Loss?
Whether you are experiencing sudden hearing loss or other problems that impact the health and function of your ears, nose, or throat, you must have an otolaryngologist that you can turn to right away.