HEARING TIPS

Early Treatment Gives a Positive Outlook to Those Who Have Sudden Hearing Loss

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

More often than we would like to admit, in today’s society, we put off on health care.

Think of the parents who consistently put the needs of their children before of their own, ensuring their children get proactive and reactive care when required, but neglecting to do the same for themselves. How about professionals who won’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are those who live by an “ignorance is bliss” attitude and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.

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

If your answer is just to wait it out until your hearing comes back, chances are it never will. Hearing experts warn that abrupt, temporary hearing loss could progress to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, particularly 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 rapid loss of 30 decibels or more of hearing ability–will regain some or all of their hearing naturally.

Many people would be surprised to find out how often sudden hearing loss happens. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to experience sudden hearing loss. With that being said, the NIDCD cautions that the number of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to go up if you were to include them. That means that about 400,000 (or more) Americans might develop sudden hearing loss each year.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are frequently unable to figure out the cause as it occurs over hours or even days. The sad truth is that pinpointing a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. 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.

As mentioned, 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 the majority of cases, specifically those where the cause is not known, the usual course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. As with all steroid usage, the objective is to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling.

As medicine has advanced and more researchers have carried out additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the recommended method of treatment has evolved. Pill form is how these steroids were historically prescribed, but this presented a challenge for people who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were worried about the side effects associated with the medication.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum was as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even getting around the drawbacks to oral alternatives by allowing the medication to go directly into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

A panel of tests that could diagnose the underlying issue causing your sudden hearing loss can be arranged by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting prompt medical attention is essential. These tests can even examine your ability to keep your balance as well as performing blood-work and several imaging methods.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss May be on The Horizon

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

While some aspects of sudden loss of hearing continue to be a mystery, researchers and medical professionals have shown over and over that early treatment increases your chances of getting back the hearing you’ve lost. Contact a hearing expert if you have hearing loss of any kind.

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