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

More frequently than we would care to admit, in today’s society, we put off on health care.

Think of the parents who regularly put the needs of their children in front of their own, ensuring their sons and daughters obtain proactive and reactive care when necessary, but neglecting to do the same for themselves. The same goes for the working professional who won’t cancel a meeting to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are those who are afraid of what they could hear so they avoid the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.

But what would you do if you required more than something to fight off a sinus infection or your annual flu vaccine? If you woke up one morning and had total loss of hearing in one if not both ears what would you do then?

There’s a good possibility your hearing will not ever come back if you simply try to put it off. Hearing professionals caution that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss treated right away, particularly 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 shocked to find out how frequently sudden hearing loss occurs. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to experience sudden hearing loss. That said, the NIDCD cautions that the number of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to go up if you were to include them. This means that this year about 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden hearing loss.

The term “sudden” is somewhat of a misconception in this situation as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can occur over a few hours or up to three days.

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are usually not able to find the cause as it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate fact is that identifying a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. 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.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In most cases, particularly those where the cause is unknown, the usual course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

The preferred method of treatment has evolved since researchers have conducted more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has modernized. Pill form is how these steroids were historically prescribed, but this presented a challenge for individuals who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects connected with the medication.

A 2011 clinical trial supported by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be just as reliable as oral steroids, even allowing the medication to go right into the inner ear, without the drawback of the oral alternatives. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

Another reason why seeking immediate medical attention is so important is that your doctor may order a panel of tests that could diagnose the root issue behind your sudden hearing loss or another dangerous condition. These tests could include blood-work, an MRI or other techniques for imaging and even a test of your balance.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss May be on The Horizon

Given the lack of definite information about the cause of sudden loss of hearing, ongoing research digs deeper into what may be the cause. New advancements with infusing drugs into small microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what may be a safer way.

Researchers have proven that even though they might not have all the answers regarding sudden hearing loss, your chances of getting your hearing back is increased by seeking early treatment. If you have hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should get in touch with a hearing expert immediately.

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