For Those With Sudden Hearing Loss Early Treatment Offers Hope

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

In today’s society, putting off health care is a situation that happens more frequently than we’d like to acknowledge.

Think of the parents who continually put the needs of their children in front of their own, making certain their sons and daughters get proactive and reactive care when needed, but failing to do the same for themselves. How about professionals who can’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are individuals who are scared of what they might hear so they stay away from the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

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

If your answer is to just wait it out until your hearing returns, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing experts caution that sudden, temporary loss of hearing could progress to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, specifically if the damage is at the nerve level.

Sudden Hearing Loss, What is it?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the individuals who experience sudden hearing loss–the rapid loss of 30 decibels or more of hearing ability–will regain some or all of their hearing naturally.

Sudden hearing loss is more likely to happen than some might believe. As a matter of fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 each year who experience sudden hearing loss. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were taken into consideration, that number would be significantly higher. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans might experience sudden loss of hearing every year.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are frequently unable to find the cause because it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate truth is that pinpointing a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Of those that hearing specialists can pinpoint, the most common causes include autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.

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

How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?

In cases when the cause is unknown and in many other cases, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the objective is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.

The preferred means of treatment has evolved since researchers have conducted more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has modernized. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but for individuals who were worried about the side effects of medication or were unable to take oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

A 2011 clinical trial established by the NIDCD discovered that an injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be just as reliable as oral steroids, even getting around the downsides to oral alternatives by enabling the medication to flow right into the ear. These injections are now a common method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

A panel of tests that might diagnose the underlying issue causing your sudden hearing loss can be arranged by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting prompt medical attention is crucial. These tests may include blood-work, an MRI or other methods of imaging and even a test of your balance.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon

Researchers continue to work on the issue but honestly, there is a lack of solid facts around the cause of sudden hearing loss. 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 loss of hearing, your chances of getting your hearing back is improved by getting early treatment. Contact a hearing specialist if you have hearing loss of any type.

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