Early Treatment Gives Hope to Those With Sudden Hearing Loss

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

In our modern society, putting off health care is a situation that happens more often than we’d like to admit.

Consider people who disregard their own health care so they can get protection for their children. The same goes for the working professional who refuses to cancel a meeting to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are those who are frightened of what they could hear so they steer clear of the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.

But what would you do if you needed more than just 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 hearing loss in one if not both ears?

If your answer is just to wait it out until your hearing returns, chances are it never will. Hearing specialists warn that sudden, temporary hearing loss might progress to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, especially 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 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.

Sudden hearing loss is more likely to happen than some might believe. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to experience sudden hearing loss. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were included, that number would go up significantly. This means that this year about 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden loss of hearing.

Sudden hearing loss can actually occur over several hours or days so the term is a bit of a misconception.

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are usually not able to find the cause as it happens over hours or even days. The sad truth is that identifying a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. Of those that hearing professionals can determine, the most common causes are autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.

As stated, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the start of sudden hearing loss gives you the best possibility to recover at least some of your normal hearing.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In many cases, specifically those where the cause is unknown, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

As medicine has become more modern and more researchers have done additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the preferred method of treatment has changed. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this presented a challenge for individuals who were unable to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects linked to the medication.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even side-stepping the downsides to oral alternatives by permitting the medicine to go right into the ear. These injections are now a normal approach to treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

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

We Could be Getting Close to New Treatment For Sudden Hearing Loss

Researchers continue to work on the issue but frankly, there is a lack of solid facts about the cause of sudden hearing loss. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new advancement of infusing the drug into microspheres.

Researchers have proven that even though they might not have all the answers concerning sudden loss of hearing, your chances of restoring your hearing is improved by seeking early treatment. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should contact a hearing professional right away.

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