HEARING TIPS

There is Hope For People Who Have Sudden Loss of Hearing if They Get Early Treatment

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

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

Consider people who ignore their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. How about professionals who won’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are individuals who are frightened of what they might hear so they steer clear of the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

But what would you do if you needed more than simply this year’s preventive flu shot or something to deal with a sinus infection? If you woke up one morning and had total hearing loss in one if not both ears what would you do then?

If your answer is just to ignore it until your hearing comes back, chances are it never will. Hearing professionals caution that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of right away, particularly if it’s at the nerve level, it could become permanent.

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.

Sudden hearing loss is more likely to occur than some might believe. In fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six individuals for every 5,000 each year who experience sudden hearing loss. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were included, that number would go up significantly. That means that around 400,000 (or more) Americans may develop sudden hearing loss every year.

Sudden hearing loss can actually take place over a few hours or days so the term is somewhat of a misnomer.

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are often unable to determine the cause because it comes on over hours or even days. The sad truth is that identifying a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. Out of those cases 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 chance of recovering at least some of your normal hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment as soon as possible.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In the majority of cases, particularly those where the cause is not known, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the purpose is to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling.

As medicine has modernized and more researchers have carried out additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the preferred method of treatment has changed. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but for individuals who were leery of the side effects of medication or were unable to take oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

A 2011 clinical trial established by the NIDCD discovered that an injection of steroids through the eardrum was just as effective as oral steroids, even getting around the drawbacks of oral alternatives by allowing the medicine to flow directly into the ear. These injections are now a normal method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

Another reason why seeking prompt medical care is so important is that your doctor might order a panel of tests that could diagnose the underlying problem behind your sudden loss of hearing or another threatening condition. These tests could include blood-work, an MRI or other methods of imaging and even a test of your balance.

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

Given the lack of concrete information around the cause of sudden loss of hearing, continuing research goes deeper into what may be the culprit. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new advancement of infusing the drug into microspheres.

Researchers have shown that even though they may not have all the answers regarding sudden loss of hearing, your chances of getting your hearing back is improved by seeking early treatment. If you have hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should contact a hearing expert right away.

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