The American Academy of Otolaryngology says that approximately 66,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) yearly. This isn’t something that’s caused by traumatic noise. Instead, your inner ear becomes inflamed. Oftentimes this is accompanied by both vertigo and tinnitus (ringing of your ears).
This type of hearing loss is very scary because being unable to hear is disorienting. However, the sudden onset of SSNHL also causes people to wonder if they’re having a stroke. This is why people need to be more aware of it – especially those who are in their late 40s and early 50s since this is the age group in which it is typically seen.
Unfortunately, doctors don’t know why this happens. However, there are some who believe that this is a metabolic syndrome.
What to Know and do if You Experience SSNHL
If you think that you may be experiencing SSNHL you should:
- Don’t simply assume that it’s because you have a respiratory infection such as a cold. You need prompt diagnosis and treatment (within 24 – 48 hours) so you can be one of the 50% of those who are diagnosed and able to regain some hearing – generally speaking, this population isn’t experiencing vertigo. Typically, this hearing will spontaneously reappear within two weeks.
- Have your hearing examined by a hearing professional within a few days. They’ll perform a pure-tone test to determine if you’ve lost at least 30 decibels of hearing in three consecutive frequencies (a drop that makes it difficult to hear conversations). If so, you’ll be diagnosed with SSNHL.
- When you’re also experiencing dizziness, your audiologist may also perform an electronystagmography – placing small electrodes around your eyes to measure their movement. Doing so tells them how well your vestibular system is working.
- Once you’re diagnosed with SSNHL you’ll need to see an ENT. They may order an MRI and blood work to check for autoimmune disorders.
Effective Treatment for SSNHL
There are a few options available for treating SSNHL, including:
Steroid pills, injections in the eardrum, or a combination of both are the standard treatment. They’ll reduce any inflammation or swelling but you may gain weight, experience mood changes, have difficulty sleeping and your blood pressure and blood sugar may also increase.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) whereby you enter a chamber in which you breathe in pure oxygen is another option. This increases the oxygen to your brain and ears.
If you’re still experiencing hearing loss after three months, you may want to consult with an audiologist to get fitted for hearing aids. In the most severe cases, cochlear implants are used. Those who are also experiencing tinnitus may need to undergo audiological rehabilitation.
It’s important to maintain healthy hearing at any age. However, if you find yourself suddenly stricken with SSNHL you’ll want to make sure you receive the best treatment possible. If you live in Clearwater, Florida, this means you should contact Countryside Hearing Aid Services and set up an appointment for yourself today.
Picture Credit: 123rf.com