In today’s society, delaying health care is a situation that happens more often than we’d like to acknowledge.
Consider the parents who regularly put the needs of their children before of their own, ensuring their sons and daughters receive proactive and reactive care when necessary, but neglecting to do the same for themselves. What about professionals who can’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are people who live by an “ignorance is bliss” attitude and stay away from the doctor’s office for fear of what they might hear.
But what would you do if you needed more than simply your annual preventive flu shot or something to get rid of a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one day with sudden and total loss of hearing in one or both ears?
There’s a good possibility your hearing will never come back if you simply attempt to wait it out. Hearing specialists warn that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of right away, peculiarly 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.
Sudden hearing loss is more likely to occur than some might believe. Actually, studies estimate that there are between one and six individuals for every 5,000 each year who experience sudden hearing loss. With that being said, the NIDCD cautions that the amount of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to swell if you were to include them. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden hearing loss.
The term “sudden” is somewhat of a misconception in this case as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can take place over several hours or up to three days.
Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?
Doctors are often not able to figure out the cause because it occurs over hours or even days. The unfortunate reality is that identifying a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of individuals 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 recovering at least some of your normal hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment right away.
How do You Treat Sudden Hearing Loss?
In situations when the cause is not known and in most other cases, the usual course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. As with all steroid usage, the goal is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.
As medicine has become more modern and more researchers have done additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the preferred method of treatment has evolved. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but for individuals who were worried about the side effects of medication or were not able to use oral steroids, this offered a challenge.
An injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even allowing the medication to flow straight into the inner ear, without the drawback of the oral alternatives. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country routinely give these injections in the office.
Another reason why getting immediate medical care is so crucial is that your doctor might order a panel of tests that could diagnose the fundamental issue behind your sudden loss of hearing or another threatening condition. These tests can even examine whether you can keep your balance as well as doing blood-work and several imaging methods.
New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon
Given the lack of solid information about the cause of sudden loss of hearing, ongoing research goes deeper into what could be the culprit. New advancements with infusing drugs into small microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what could be a safer way.
While some factors of sudden loss of hearing are still a mystery, researchers and medical specialists have shown repeatedly that early treatment improves your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should contact a hearing specialist immediately.