Sudden deafness, also known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss, affects more people each year than one may realize. According to NIH, sudden deafness happens to 1-6 people per 5,000 each year in the United States. Should you have any of the symptoms, it is wise to contact an audiologist for an exam. The sooner you get tested, the more likely your treatment can help restore your hearing.
What Is Sudden Deafness?
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) indicates that something is wrong with the inner ear’s sensory organs. It can be caused by an infection, head trauma, autoimmune disease, neurological disorder, or drugs (for cancer, for example.) It usually occurs in only one ear.
As the name implies, sudden deafness happens suddenly. Patients testify that it had happened when waking up one morning without notice, or after hearing a loud pop in the ear. Some people discover it when trying to use the phone or any other situation in which they try to use that ear. The hearing loss can come with other symptoms like tinnitus, dizziness, or a full feeling in the ear.
People often neglect going to the audiologist because they think it’s just an infection, an allergy, or earwax, but in reality, sudden hearing loss is too abnormal to ignore and could be permanent. The sooner you go to get tested, the more likely healing can happen.
Your doctor will likely perform a pure tone audiometry test to evaluate your sensorineural hearing. There could be a dramatic drop in the decibel levels you can hear in that ear, or the hearing loss could be more subtle. Other tests the doctor may perform include blood tests, a balance test, and an MRI, which can detect potential underlying causes.
Sometimes, the cause of SSHL is unknown. Nevertheless, the most common treatment for it is corticosteroids. These steroids can help decrease inflammation and promote healing in the ear. In the past, they were taken as pills, but today, doctors can inject the medicine directly into the eardrum. From there, it will reach the inner ear. This form of administration, called intratympanic injection, is just as effective as taking it orally. If an underlying cause for the sudden deafness is present, like an infection, the doctor can prescribe something for that root cause as well.
Trust the Experts at Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions
Need help with your hearing? Clarity Hearing can help. Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions is an independently owned and operated clinic that focuses on quality of care and personalized, friendly service to the surrounding areas of Ellicott City, Catonsville, Columbia. Our Doctors of Audiology are highly trained with advanced degrees and take the time to provide the personalized care and attention that you need and deserve. We provide advanced hearing aid options that are personally calibrated with cutting-edge digital technology to fit your hearing loss, your unique ear anatomy, and your individual listening needs.