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

More frequently than we would like to admit, in our modern day society, we neglect health care.

Consider the parents who consistently put the needs of their children before of their own, making sure their sons and daughters obtain proactive and reactive care when necessary, but neglecting to do the same for themselves. You can say the same for the working professional who won’t cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are those who are scared of what they could hear so they avoid the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

But what action would you take if you required more than something to deal with a sinus infection or your annual flu vaccine? If you woke up one day and had total hearing loss in one if not both ears what would you do then?

If your answer is just to wait it out until your hearing returns, chances are it never will. Hearing professionals warn that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss treated immediately, peculiarly if it’s at the nerve level, it might become permanent.

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the individuals who experience sudden hearing loss–the rapid 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. Having said that, the NIDCD cautions that the number of undiagnosed cases would cause that figure to swell if you were to include them. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans may experience sudden loss of hearing every year.

The term “sudden” is a bit of a misconception in this situation as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can happen over several hours or up to three days.

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Due to the fact that the onset can occur over hours or days, doctors are seldom able to discover what causes most cases. The unfortunate reality is that determining a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. 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 as soon as possible.

How do You Treat Sudden Hearing Loss?

In situations when the cause is unknown and in most other cases, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Minimizing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid usage.

The recommended method of treatment has evolved since researchers have carried out more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has modernized. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this presented a challenge for those who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were worried about the side effects associated with the medication.

A 2011 clinical trial supported by the NIDCD found that an injection of steroids through the eardrum was just as effective as oral steroids, even making it possible for the medication to flow directly into the inner ear, without the drawback of the oral alternatives. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

Another reason why seeking prompt medical care is so crucial is that your doctor might order a group of tests that could diagnose the underlying problem behind your sudden loss of hearing or another dangerous condition. These tests can even check whether you can keep your balance as well as doing blood-work and several imaging techniques.

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 around the cause of sudden loss of hearing. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.

Researchers have shown that even though they might not have all the answers about sudden loss of hearing, your chances of getting your hearing back is increased by seeking early treatment. If you have hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should contact a hearing professional immediately.

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