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

More frequently than we would like to admit, in today’s society, we neglect health care.

Think of the parents who regularly put the needs of their children before of their own, making sure their kids receive proactive and reactive care when required, but neglecting to do the same for themselves. The same goes for the working professional who won’t cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are individuals who are afraid of what they could hear so they avoid the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

But what action would you take if you required more than something to get rid of a sinus infection or your annual flu vaccine? What would you do if you woke up one day with unexpected and total hearing loss in one or both ears?

There’s a good chance your hearing will not ever return if you just attempt to put it off. Hearing experts caution that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss treated immediately, peculiarly if it’s at the nerve level, it might become permanent.

Sudden Hearing Loss, What is it?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the individuals who experience sudden hearing loss–the rapid loss of 30 decibels or more of hearing ability–will regain some or all of their hearing naturally.

Many people would be shocked to find out how frequently 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. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were included, that number would go up significantly. This means that this year about 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden loss of hearing.

The term “sudden” is a bit of a misconception in this instance as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can take place over several hours or up to three days.

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Because the onset can take place over hours or days, doctors are usually not able to learn what causes most cases. The sad reality is that determining a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Of those that hearing professionals 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, getting treatment as soon as possible after the start of sudden hearing loss gives you the best chance of recovering at least some of your normal hearing.

How do You Deal With Sudden Hearing Loss?

In many cases, especially those where the cause is unknown, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Minimizing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid usage.

The preferred method of treatment has changed since researchers have done more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has modernized. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but for people who were leery of the side effects of medication or were not able to use oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

An injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be as effective as an oral steroid according to a 2018 NIDCD clinical trial, even making it possible for the medication to go right into the inner ear, without the disadvantage of the oral alternatives. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

Another reason why getting prompt medical care is so crucial is that your doctor might order a group of tests that could diagnose the fundamental issue behind your sudden hearing loss or another threatening condition. These tests may include blood-work, an MRI or other techniques for imaging and even an examination of your ability to balance.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon

Given the lack of concrete information around the cause of sudden loss of hearing, ongoing research goes deeper into what may be the cause. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new advancement of infusing the drug into microspheres.

While many aspects of sudden hearing loss continue to be a mystery, researchers and medical experts have proven over and over that early treatment improves your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. If you have hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should get in touch with a hearing expert right away.

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