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

More often than we would care to admit, in today’s society, we neglect health care.

Consider people who neglect their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. The same goes for the working professional who refuses to cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are those who abide by an “ignorance is bliss” approach and stay away from the doctor’s office for fear of what they might hear.

But what would you do if you needed more than something to get rid of a sinus infection or your annual flu vaccine? What would you do if you woke up one day with unexpected and complete loss of hearing in one or both ears?

If your answer is just to wait it out until your hearing comes back, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing specialists warn that sudden, temporary hearing loss could advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, especially if the damage is at the nerve level.

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the people 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 loss of hearing. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were included, that number would go up significantly. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden hearing loss.

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

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are usually not able to determine the cause as it happens over hours or even days. The sad reality is that only around 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss have a cause that can be determined. 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.

Your best possibility of recovering at least some of your regular hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment right away.

How do You Deal With Sudden Hearing Loss?

In situations when the cause is not known and in many other cases, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the goal is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.

The preferred method of treatment has evolved since researchers have carried out more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has advanced. Pill form is how these steroids were historically prescribed, but for individuals who were worried about the side effects of medication or were unable to take oral steroids, this presented a challenge.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum was as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even side-stepping the drawbacks to oral alternatives by letting the medication to flow right into the ear. These injections are now a normal method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

A group of tests that might diagnose the inherent issue causing your sudden hearing loss can be arranged by your doctor and that’s another reason why seeking prompt medical attention is essential. These tests may 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 goes 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 shown that even though they may not have all the answers about sudden hearing loss, your chances of getting your hearing back is increased by getting early treatment. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert if you are experiencing hearing loss of any type.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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