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

More often than we would like to admit, in our modern day society, we neglect health care.

Consider people who ignore their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. The same goes for the working professional who refuses to cancel a meeting to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are those 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 annual flu vaccine? If you woke up one morning and had total hearing loss in one or both ears what would you do then?

There’s a good chance your hearing will not ever return if you simply try to put it off. Hearing experts warn that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of immediately, peculiarly if it’s at the nerve level, it could become permanent.

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 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 often 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. That means that around 400,000 (or more) Americans might experience sudden hearing loss each year.

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

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are often not able to figure out the cause because it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate reality is that determining a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of individuals 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 stated, getting treatment as soon as possible after the onset of sudden hearing loss gives you the best possibility of recovering at least some of your normal hearing.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In cases when the cause is not known and in most other cases, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

As medicine has advanced and more researchers have carried out additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the preferred method of treatment has evolved. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but for individuals who were worried about the side effects of medication or were unable to take oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

A 2011 clinical trial backed by the NIDCD discovered that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as effective as oral steroids, even getting around the drawbacks of oral alternatives by enabling the medicine to flow right into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country routinely give these injections in the office.

A panel of tests that might diagnose the underlying issue causing your sudden hearing loss can be ordered by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting immediate medical attention is essential. These tests can even examine your ability to keep your balance as well as doing blood-work and several imaging techniques.

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

Given the lack of concrete information around the cause of sudden hearing loss, continuing research goes deeper into what may be the culprit. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.

Researchers have proven that even though they may not have all the answers about sudden hearing loss, your chances of getting your hearing back is increased by getting early treatment. Make an appointment with a hearing specialist if you are experiencing hearing loss of any kind.