In our modern society, putting off health care is a scenario that happens more often than we’d like to admit.
Think about people who neglect their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. How about professionals who can’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are individuals who are frightened of what they might hear so they avoid the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.
But what would you do if you required more than something to get rid of a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? If you woke up one day and had total loss of hearing in one or both ears what would you do then?
If your answer is just to ignore it until your hearing comes back, chances are it never will. Hearing experts warn that abrupt, temporary loss of hearing might progress to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, especially if the damage is at the nerve level.
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 surprised to find out how often 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. That said, the NIDCD cautions that the quantity of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to go up if you were to include them. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden hearing loss.
Sudden hearing loss can actually happen over several hours or days so the term is a bit of a misconception.
What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?
Due to the fact that the onset can occur over hours or days, doctors are usually not able to discover what causes most cases. The unfortunate fact is that determining a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Of those that hearing experts can pinpoint, the most common causes are autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.
As stated, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the start of sudden hearing loss gives you the best chance to recover at least some of your normal hearing.
How do You Deal With Sudden Hearing Loss?
In situations when the cause is unknown and in many other cases, the usual course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. Minimizing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.
The preferred method of treatment has changed since researchers have carried out more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has advanced. Pill form is how these steroids were historically prescribed, but for individuals who were worried about the side effects of medication or were unable to use oral steroids, this presented a challenge.
A 2011 clinical trial supported by the NIDCD discovered that an injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be just as reliable as oral steroids, even side-stepping the drawbacks to oral alternatives by enabling the medication to go right into the ear. These injections are now a common method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.
A group of tests that may diagnose the root problem causing your sudden hearing loss can be arranged by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting prompt medical attention is crucial. These tests could include blood-work, an MRI or other methods of imaging and even a test of your balance.
New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon
Researchers continue to work on the problem but honestly, there is a lack of solid information about the cause of sudden hearing loss. New developments with infusing drugs into little microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what may be a safer way.
Researchers have proven that even though they might not have all the answers about sudden loss of hearing, your chances of getting your hearing back is improved by seeking early treatment. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should contact a hearing professional immediately.