Warning: If you experience sudden hearing loss, you should seek medical attention immediately!
In fact, studies show that if we treat sudden hearing loss in the first 72 hours of onset, patients are more likely to regain some of the hearing back. (This is typically achieved with corticosteroids.) Unfortunately, most people wait too long, thinking it will go away on its own, but that doesn’t usually happen.
What is sudden hearing loss?
The American Hearing Research Foundation defines sudden hearing loss as “greater than 30 dB hearing reduction, over at least three contiguous frequencies occurring over a period of 72 hours or less.” The severity and speed of onset varies from person to person, and one or both ears may be affected. Both men and women of any age can experience sudden hearing loss, and the average age of onset is 46 to 49 years.
People who experience sudden hearing loss often report the following symptoms: dizziness, tinnitus, and a popping sound right before the onset of the hearing loss. In some cases, the person will immediately notice that they cannot hear from one ear. In other cases, until they have a hearing test by an Audiologist, they might not fully understand the extent of the damage. Either way, as soon as you recognize sudden hearing loss, contact your primary care physician immediately. Delaying your diagnosis could decrease the effectiveness of the treatment.
What causes sudden hearing loss?
Sudden hearing loss can result from a variety of causes. Unfortunately, even after a thorough examination, doctors cannot always determine the cause of this frustrating condition. Common causes of sudden hearing loss include the following:
- Ménière’s disease
- Neoplastic issues
- Traumatic issues
- Metabolic issues
- Neurologic issues
- Immunologic issues
- Toxic issues
- Cochlear/inner ear changes
How can an Audiologist help?
After being seen by your primary care physician, your Audiologist can determine the extent of the damage and explore potential causes. Although your doctor may not be able to pinpoint a definite cause, it is necessary for them to rule out medically treatable causes. Using the results of your hearing test and your doctor’s findings, your Audiologist can help you find the best treatment options. Working together, nearly half of people recover at least some part of their hearing capabilities after sudden hearing loss.
Understanding what to do with the hearing loss is what we do best. If you’ve been told by medical professionals that there is nothing you can do about your sudden hearing loss, you need to see us for a second opinion. We help patients with sudden hearing loss regain their ability to hear in background noise, localize where sounds are coming from, and reduce their tinnitus – if necessary. Call us today to schedule a consultation.