More often than we would like to admit, in today’s society, we neglect health care.
Think about people who neglect their own health care so they can get protection for their children. How about professionals who can’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are those who live by an “ignorance is bliss” attitude and stay away from the doctor’s office for fear of what they could hear.
But what would you do if you needed more than simply your annual preventive flu vaccine or something to deal with a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one day with unexpected and total hearing loss in one or both ears?
If your answer is just to ignore it until your hearing comes back, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing specialists 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.
Sudden Hearing Loss, What is it?
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 frequently sudden hearing loss happens. In fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 yearly who experience sudden hearing loss. That said, the NIDCD warns that the amount of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to swell if you were to include them. This means that this year about 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden hearing loss.
The term “sudden” is a bit of a misconception in this case as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can take place over several hours or up to three days.
Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?
Doctors are frequently not able to find the cause as it happens over hours or even days. The sad truth is that identifying a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Infections, head trauma, autoimmune diseases, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation problems, neurological disorders and disorders of the inner ear are some of the most common causes that hearing specialist can pinpoint.
As mentioned, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the onset of sudden hearing loss gives you the best chance of recovering at least some of your normal function.
Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?
In most cases, specifically those where the cause is unknown, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.
The recommended means of treatment has changed since researchers have done more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has advanced. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this presented a challenge for those who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were worried about the side effects linked to the medication.
A 2011 clinical trial backed by the NIDCD found that an injection of steroids through the eardrum was just as reliable as oral steroids, even side-stepping the downsides of oral alternatives by enabling the medicine to flow straight into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.
Another reason why seeking immediate medical care is so crucial is that your doctor may order a group of tests that could diagnose the underlying issue behind your sudden hearing loss or another threatening condition. These tests can even determine whether you can keep your balance as well as performing 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 digs deeper into what could be the culprit. New developments with infusing drugs into small microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what may be a safer way.
Researchers have proven that even though they may not have all the answers regarding sudden loss of hearing, your chances of restoring your hearing is improved by getting early treatment. Contact a hearing expert if you are experiencing hearing loss of any type.