In our modern society, neglecting health care is a scenario that takes place more frequently than we’d like to admit.
Think about people who ignore their own health care so they can get protection for their children. What about professionals who can’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with 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 needed more than something to deal with a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? If you woke up one morning and had complete hearing loss in one or both ears what would you do then?
There’s a good chance your hearing will never return if you simply try to wait it out. Hearing experts caution that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of immediately, especially if it’s at the nerve level, it might become permanent.
Sudden Hearing Loss, What is it?
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the people 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.
Many people would be shocked to find out how frequently sudden hearing loss occurs. As a matter of fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 each year who experience sudden hearing loss. With that being said, the NIDCD warns that the number of undiagnosed cases would cause that figure to go up 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 a bit of a misnomer in this case as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can take place over a few hours or up to three days.
Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?
Due to the fact that the onset can occur over hours or days, doctors are seldom able to learn what’s behind the cause for most cases. The sad truth is that determining a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Out of those cases that hearing experts can pinpoint, 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.
As stated, receiving 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 function.
Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?
In cases when the cause is not known and in many other cases, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid use, the objective is to minimize inflammation and decrease swelling.
The preferred method of treatment has changed since researchers have conducted more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has modernized. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but this was a challenge for those who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were worried about the side effects connected with the medication.
A 2011 clinical trial supported by the NIDCD discovered that an injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be just as effective as oral steroids, even side-stepping the drawbacks of oral alternatives by letting the medicine to go directly into the ear. These injections have now become a normal method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.
A panel of tests that could diagnose the root problem causing your sudden loss of hearing can be ordered by your doctor and that’s another reason why seeking prompt medical attention is crucial. These tests can even test your ability to keep your balance as well as performing blood-work and several imaging methods.
New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon
Given the lack of concrete information around the cause of sudden loss of hearing, ongoing research digs deeper into what could be the cause. New developments with infusing drugs into little microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what may be a safer way.
While many aspects of sudden loss of hearing continue to be a mystery, researchers and medical experts have shown repeatedly that early treatment improves your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. Contact a hearing professional if you are experiencing hearing loss of any type.