Sudden Hearing Loss: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Understanding Sudden Hearing LossA sudden hearing loss (SSHL) occurs over the course of a few days. It’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you experience sudden hearing loss, as prompt treatment can increase the chances of recovery. In some cases, hearing aids or cochlear implants may be recommended for those who do not fully regain their hearing.

What Sudden Hearing Loss Is
Sudden hearing loss is a loss of hearing of greater than 30 dB in three contiguous frequencies. SSHL can occur in one or both ears and can be accompanied by tinnitus, vertigo, or a feeling of fullness in the affected ear.

SSHL is something that can occur at any age, but it’s more common in people aged 50 to 60 years old. One study that was conducted about SSHL revealed that males were more likely to develop it than females, with a male-to-female ratio of 1.6:1. Additionally, the incidence was higher in the Northeast region of the United States compared to other regions. Sensorineural SSHL is more common than bilateral. In fact, bilateral is rare, with only about 2% of patients experiencing it. Therefore, much more is known about sensorineural SSHL than is known about bilateral SSHL. Herein we’ll discuss bilateral SSHL and not sensorineural SSHL.

What Causes the Sudden Loss of Hearing
Some of the most common causes of SSHL include:

  • Viral infections
  • Head trauma
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Some prescription medication
  • Benign or malignant tumors
  • Insecticides
  • Vascular disorders
  • Immunological disorders
  • Idiopathic disorders

It’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you experience sudden hearing loss to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

How the Sudden Loss of Hearing is Treated
Many times people recover from SSHL just as suddenly as they develop it (usually within two weeks after developing it). However, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, as prompt treatment can increase the chances of recovery. 
Oftentimes the source of SSHL is difficult to determine. You need to seek emergency treatment to try to determine what the cause was. Your doctor may then choose to prescribe medications, such as corticosteroids, to reduce inflammation and swelling in the inner ear. In some cases, hearing aids or cochlear implants may be recommended for the long-term management of hearing loss.

There are many times when SSHL is simply a matter of too much ear wax building up in your ear. Typically, when this occurs, you’ll also experience symptoms such as ear pain, hearing loss, or discharge from the ear.  When this happens, you’ll want to consult a healthcare professional who can safely remove the earwax using specialized tools and techniques. This isn’t something that you should attempt to do at home. Your doctor can also advise you on how to prevent excessive earwax buildup in the future.

Additionally, some cases do become permanent. These patients may require hearing aids or other assistive devices (cochlear implants if your hearing loss is profound) even after recovery. This is especially true if you’ve suffered from a severe loss of hearing or have also developed vertigo. Additionally, some patients may benefit from speech therapy or other forms of rehabilitation to help them adjust to their hearing loss. This is because SSHL makes it especially difficult to hear conversations when there’s a lot of background noise present. 

Get Help for All of Your Hearing Needs
Countryside Hearing Aid Services in Clearwater, FL, is a reputable hearing aid provider that offers a wide range of solutions to help individuals with sudden hearing loss. Their experienced team of professionals can assist in finding the right hearing aid to improve the quality of life for those experiencing hearing loss. Reach out to them today to see if this is the right treatment for you.

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