More often than we would care to admit, in today’s society, we neglect health care.
Consider the parents who regularly put the needs of their children before of their own, making sure their sons and daughters get proactive and reactive care when necessary, but failing to do the same for themselves. You can say the same for the working professional who won’t cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are people who abide by an “ignorance is bliss” approach and stay away from the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.
But what would you do if you required more than something to fight off a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? What would you do if you woke up one morning with sudden and complete loss of hearing in one if not both ears?
There’s a good chance your hearing will not ever return if you just attempt to put it off. Hearing experts warn that sudden, temporary loss of hearing could progress to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, especially if the damage is at the nerve level.
Sudden Hearing Loss, What is it?
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the individuals 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.
Many people would be shocked to find out how frequently sudden hearing loss occurs. 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 go up significantly. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden hearing loss.
Sudden hearing loss can actually happen over several hours or days so the term is somewhat of a misnomer.
Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?
Because the onset can happen over hours or days, doctors are seldom able to discover what’s behind the cause for most cases. The sad reality is that pinpointing a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. Of those that hearing specialists can determine, the most common causes are 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 regular hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment as soon as possible.
How do You Treat Sudden Hearing Loss?
In most cases, especially those where the cause is unknown, the normal course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the goal is to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling.
As medicine has advanced and more researchers have conducted additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the preferred method of treatment has evolved. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this was a challenge for people who were unable to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects linked to the medication.
An injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even side-stepping the downsides of oral alternatives by enabling the medicine to go directly into the ear. These injections have now become a common approach to treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.
Another reason why getting prompt medical care is so crucial is that your doctor may order a group of tests that could diagnose the root problem behind your sudden hearing loss 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 May be on The Horizon
Given the lack of definite information around the cause of sudden loss of hearing, continuing research digs deeper into what could be the culprit. New developments with infusing drugs into tiny microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what might be a safer way.
While many aspects of sudden hearing loss continue to be a mystery, researchers and medical experts have shown over and over that early treatment improves your chances of getting back the hearing you’ve lost. Schedule an appointment with a hearing expert if you have hearing loss of any type.