When you suddenly develop hearing loss you should see your doctor right away as this will help you be more likely to fully recover. This is what’s known as Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL). It usually only affects one ear (hence why it’s called unilateral) it will leave you unable to distinguish where sounds are coming from. Sometimes it’s possible to save some of your hearing ability and amplify it with a hearing aid.
What SSNHL Is
This loss of hearing can either occur all at once or for a few days. Regardless of how long it takes to happen, it occurs in one in every 5,000 adults each year. Since this is only the number of people who report the problem, many may suffer without saying anything. This is because they assume that it’s allergies, a sinus infection, or the build-up of earwax.
Both men and women are equally affected by this type of hearing loss which will typically first occur when they’re in their mid-40s – mid-50s. Some notice this loss of hearing when they first wake up in the morning or when they hear a loud “pop” in their ear but others don’t notice it right away.
What Causes SSNHL
Unfortunately, the cause of this type of hearing loss is unknown. The cause is only identified in about 10 – 15% of cases. There are some possible known risk factors though. These include:
- A viral or bacterial infection
- Taking high dosages of some medications like ototoxic medications
- Circulation issues
- Neurological diseases
- Trauma injuries to the head
- Autoimmune diseases
Treatment for SSNHL
The first thing you’ll want to do if you suspect you may have SSNHL is to make an appointment to get a pure tone audiometry test done to measure how much loss of hearing you’re experiencing. This test will also tell you your range of hearing loss in decibels. If you’re experiencing a loss of hearing of at least 30 decibels in at least three connected frequencies you’ll be diagnosed with SSNHL. From there, your doctor may choose to run further tests to determine exactly what is causing this to happen. This can include bloodwork, an MRI, or even a balance test.
While you may not think that all of these tests are important, medical professionals believe that SSNHL is a medical emergency. It requires immediate action so that you can get the proper treatment for it right away. Unfortunately, this type of treatment is still quite limited but studies have shown that about 85% of people who seek prompt medical attention do manage to regain some, if not all, of their hearing.
This medical attention sometimes requires the use of steroid drugs to treat SSNHL. This is because these drugs are able to suppress any inflammation you may be experiencing. Typically, corticosteroids are what’s used because they’re able to help your body fight off an illness not only by reducing inflammation but also by decreasing swelling. These are usually administered in the form of a pill but sometimes they’re administered in the form of an injection that’s given behind your eardrum (intratympanic corticosteroid therapy), especially if you’re unable to take oral steroids. Both of these treatments are equally effective but the shots can be somewhat uncomfortable to receive. If another underlying cause is also diagnosed, it will need to be treated as well.
If you suddenly experience some hearing loss you shouldn’t ignore it, hoping that it’ll go away. Instead, you should make an appointment with Countryside Hearing Aid Services in Clearwater, FL. This could make all the difference.
Picture Credit: 123rf.com