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

In today’s society, putting off health care is a situation that takes place more often than we’d like to admit.

Consider people who neglect their own health care so they can get protection for their children. How about professionals who won’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are people who live by an “ignorance is bliss” attitude and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they might hear.

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 morning with sudden and complete loss of hearing in one if not 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 loss of hearing could progress to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, specifically 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 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 occur than is commonly recognized. 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 taken into consideration, that number would be significantly higher. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans could develop sudden loss of hearing each year.

The term “sudden” is somewhat 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.

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Due to the fact that the onset can happen over hours or days, doctors are seldom able to discover what’s behind the cause for most cases. The unfortunate truth is that identifying a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. Of those that hearing specialists can pinpoint, the most common causes include infections, head trauma, autoimmune diseases, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation problems, neurological disorders and disorders of the inner ear.

Your best possibility of getting back at least some of your normal hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment as soon as possible.

How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?

In the majority of cases, especially those where the cause is not known, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

The recommended method of treatment has evolved since researchers have conducted more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has modernized. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this was 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 established by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids through the eardrum was just as effective as oral steroids, even side-stepping the downsides to oral alternatives by letting the medication to go straight into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country routinely give these injections in the office.

A panel of tests that could diagnose the root problem causing your sudden hearing loss can be arranged by your doctor and that’s another reason why seeking immediate medical attention is essential. These tests could include blood-work, an MRI or other techniques for imaging and even an examination of your ability to balance.

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

Researchers continue to work on the problem but frankly, there’s a lack of solid information about the cause of sudden loss of hearing. New developments with infusing drugs into tiny microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what might be a safer way.

Researchers have shown that even though they may not have all the answers concerning sudden loss of hearing, your chances of restoring your hearing is increased by getting early treatment. Schedule an appointment with a hearing professional if you are experiencing hearing loss of any type.

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