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

In our modern society, delaying health care is a scenario that happens more frequently than we’d like to acknowledge.

Think about people who ignore their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. You can say the same for the working professional who won’t cancel a meeting to fit in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are people who are frightened of what they might hear so they avoid the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.

But what would you do if you needed more than just this year’s preventive flu shot or something to deal with a sinus infection? If you woke up one day and had complete hearing loss in one or both ears what would you do then?

There’s a good possibility your hearing will not ever come back if you just try to wait it out. Hearing professionals caution that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of immediately, peculiarly if it’s at the nerve level, it could become permanent.

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. As a matter of fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 yearly who experience sudden hearing loss. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were taken into consideration, that number would go up significantly. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden hearing loss.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are often unable to determine the cause because it occurs over hours or even days. The unfortunate reality is that identifying a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. exposure to certain drugs, blood pressure problems, neurological disorders, infections, disorders of the inner ear and head trauma are some of the most common causes that hearing specialist can pinpoint.

As mentioned, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the start of sudden hearing loss gives you the best possibility of recovering at least some of your normal function.

Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?

In many cases, especially those where the cause is not known, the usual course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Minimizing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid usage.

As medicine has advanced and more researchers have conducted additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the preferred method of treatment has evolved. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but for people who were worried about the side effects of medication or were not able to use oral steroids, this offered a challenge.

A 2011 clinical trial backed by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as reliable as oral steroids, even making it possible for the medication to go directly into the inner ear, without the downside of the oral alternatives. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.

Another reason why getting immediate medical care is so crucial is that your doctor may order a panel of tests that could diagnose the fundamental issue behind your sudden hearing loss or another dangerous condition. These tests can even determine your ability to keep your balance as well as performing blood-work and several imaging methods.

New Treatments For Sudden Hearing Loss Could be on The Horizon

Researchers continue to work on the issue but truthfully, there is a lack of solid facts about the cause of sudden hearing loss. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.

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 increased by getting early treatment. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should contact a hearing expert immediately.