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

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

Consider people who neglect their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. You can say the same for the working professional who refuses to cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are people who are frightened of what they could hear so they avoid the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.

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 complete loss of hearing in one or both ears what would you do then?

If your answer is to just wait it out until your hearing comes back, chances are it never will. Hearing experts warn that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of immediately, particularly 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 sudden loss of 30 decibels or more of hearing ability–will regain some or all of their hearing naturally.

Many people would be shocked to know how frequently 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. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were included, that number would go up significantly. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden loss of hearing.

The term “sudden” is somewhat of a misconception in this instance 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 not able to figure out the cause because it happens over hours or even days. 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 experts can pinpoint, the most common causes include autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.

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

How do You Deal With Sudden Hearing Loss?

In most cases, specifically those where the cause is not known, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Minimizing 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 loss of hearing, the recommended method of treatment has changed. Pill form is how these steroids were historically prescribed, but this was a challenge for individuals who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects linked to the medication.

An injection of steroids into the eardrum was as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even getting around the downsides of oral alternatives by enabling the medicine to go directly into the ear. These injections are now a common approach to treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

Another reason why seeking prompt medical attention is so crucial is that your doctor might order a group of tests that could diagnose the fundamental issue behind your sudden loss of hearing or another dangerous condition. These tests can even test whether you can keep your balance as well as performing 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 honestly, there’s a lack of solid information about the cause of sudden hearing loss. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.

Researchers have proven that even though they might not have all the answers about sudden hearing loss, your chances of getting your hearing back is improved by seeking early treatment. If you have hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should get in touch with a hearing expert right away.