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

In today’s society, neglecting health care is a situation that takes place more often than we’d like to acknowledge.

Think of the parents who consistently put the needs of their children before of their own, ensuring their children get proactive and reactive care when needed, but neglecting to do the same for themselves. What about professionals who can’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are those who live by an “ignorance is bliss” attitude and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.

But what action would you take if you required more than something to deal with a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? If you woke up one day and had complete loss of hearing in one if not both ears what would you do then?

There’s a good possibility your hearing will never return if you simply try to put it off. Hearing experts warn that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss treated immediately, 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 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 occur than is commonly recognized. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to experience sudden loss of hearing. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were included, that number would be significantly higher. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden hearing loss.

Sudden hearing loss can actually occur over a few hours or days so the term is a bit of a misnomer.

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Because the onset can take place over hours or days, doctors are seldom able to learn what’s behind the cause for most cases. The sad fact is that only around 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing have a cause that can be determined. Of those that hearing experts can pinpoint, the most common causes are autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.

Your best possibility of recovering at least some of your normal hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment as soon as possible.

How do You Treat Sudden Hearing Loss?

In many cases, especially those where the cause is unknown, the normal course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the objective is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.

As medicine has advanced 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 for individuals who were leery of the side effects of medication or were unable to use oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even allowing the medication to go directly into the inner ear, without the drawback of the oral alternatives. These injections have now become a normal method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

Another reason why getting immediate 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 an examination of your ability to balance.

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

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

Researchers have shown that even though they might not have all the answers concerning sudden loss of hearing, your chances of restoring your hearing is improved by getting early treatment. Make an appointment with a hearing professional if you are experiencing hearing loss of any type.