More frequently than we would like to admit, in our modern day society, we put off on health care.
Think about people who ignore their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. How about professionals who won’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are individuals who are afraid of what they might hear so they steer clear of the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.
But what action would you take if you needed more than something to fight off a sinus infection or your annual flu vaccine? What would you do if you woke up one day with unexpected and complete loss of hearing in one or both ears?
If your answer is just to wait it out until your hearing returns, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing experts warn that abrupt, temporary loss of hearing could advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, especially if the damage is at the nerve level.
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 rapid 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 happen than some might believe. In fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 yearly who experience sudden hearing loss. With that being said, the NIDCD cautions that the amount of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to go up if you were to include them. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden loss of hearing.
Sudden hearing loss can actually happen over several hours or days so the term is a bit of a misnomer.
What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?
Because the onset can occur over hours or days, doctors are seldom able to learn what’s behind the cause for most cases. The sad reality is that identifying a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. exposure to certain drugs, blood pressure problems, neurological disorders, infections, disorders of the inner ear and head trauma are some of the most common causes that hearing specialist can pinpoint.
As mentioned, getting 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.
How do You Deal With Sudden Hearing Loss?
In situations when the cause is not known and in many other cases, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid usage, the goal is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.
The preferred method of treatment has evolved since researchers have done more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has advanced. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this presented a challenge for individuals who were unable to take oral steroids and those who were worried about the side effects linked to the medication.
A 2011 clinical trial established by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be just as reliable as oral steroids, even allowing the medication to go straight into the inner ear, without the downside of the oral alternatives. These injections have now become a common method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.
Another reason why seeking immediate medical care is so important is that your doctor may order a group of tests that could diagnose the fundamental issue behind your sudden hearing loss or another threatening condition. These tests can even examine your ability to keep your balance as well as performing blood-work and several imaging methods.
We May be Getting Close to New Treatment For Sudden Hearing Loss
Researchers continue to work on the issue but honestly, there’s a lack of concrete information about the cause of sudden hearing loss. 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 many aspects of sudden hearing loss remain a mystery, researchers and medical specialists have proven repeatedly that early treatment increases your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should contact a hearing professional right away.