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

In our modern society, putting off health care is a situation that takes place more often than we’d like to acknowledge.

Consider the parents who continually put the needs of their children in front of their own, making sure their kids get proactive and reactive care when needed, but failing to do the same for themselves. How about professionals who can’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are those who abide by an “ignorance is bliss” approach and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.

But what action would you take if you required more than something to get rid of a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? What would you do if you woke up one morning with unexpected and complete hearing loss in one if not both ears?

There’s a good possibility your hearing will never return if you just attempt to put it off. Hearing experts warn that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss treated immediately, particularly if it’s at the nerve level, it may become permanent.

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

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 know 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. With that being said, the NIDCD warns that the number of undiagnosed cases would cause that figure to swell if you were to include them. This means that this year about 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden loss of hearing.

The term “sudden” is somewhat of a misnomer in this situation as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can occur over a few hours or up to three days.

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are frequently unable to figure out the cause because it comes on over hours or even days. The unfortunate fact is that pinpointing a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. Of those that hearing specialists can determine, the most common causes include autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.

Your best chance 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, specifically those where the cause is unknown, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Minimizing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid usage.

The recommended means of treatment has evolved since researchers have conducted more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has advanced. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this was a challenge for individuals who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects connected with the medication.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be as reliable as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even side-stepping the drawbacks of oral alternatives by letting the medication to flow straight into the ear. These injections are now a common approach to treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

Another reason why getting prompt medical attention is so important is that your doctor might order a group of tests that could diagnose the underlying issue behind your sudden loss of hearing or another threatening condition. These tests can even check whether you can keep your balance as well as doing blood-work and several imaging techniques.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon

Researchers continue to work on the issue but frankly, there’s a lack of concrete facts around the cause of sudden hearing loss. New advancements with infusing drugs into tiny microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what might be a safer way.

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

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