Typically when people think of hearing loss they think of a slow decline in hearing over time but what happens when hearing loss is sudden? There are many reasons one can get sudden hearing loss; the most important part of sudden hearing loss is to see a hearing care professional immediately.
So what is the underlying cause? It can be many different causes but some include:
- Infections of the ear
- Head Trauma
- The side effect of certain drugs or medications
- Certain disorders of the inner ear such a Meniere’s disease
Often the exact underlying cause is not identified before treatment begins. Sometimes there can be multiple causes. It is important to be aware of the medications you are taking and their side effects. Be cautious of head trauma and see someone immediately when you do experience one.
Depending on what the possible cause is there are a few different methods of treatment. But first, it is necessary to have a complete audiological exam. This is needed to rule out other reasons for the hearing loss that is not due to the inner ear organ. If the sudden hearing loss is not from an inner ear issue it could be due to a middle ear issue like fluid. The treatment for an inner ear sudden hearing loss is different than a middle ear issue. A complete audiological evaluation will be able to determine if it is due to an inner ear issue versus a middle ear issue.
For inner ear hearing loss that is sudden usually, the first method of treatment is a steroid. There are several ways the steroids can be given like oral or through the eardrum.
What to expect:
Following a steroid treatment, your doctor will inform you that the treatment may or may not help. In some cases, hearing is fully restored or partially restored but some may not have any improvement following steroid treatment. It is important to be vigilant in seeking help because typically the earlier the treatment the better the outcome. To track how the treatment is working it is required to have several complete audiological exams over the course of treatment and usually annually following.
Stay on top of your hearing health and seek out professional help if there are any sudden changes in your hearing.