Losing one of our five senses will most likely be very traumatizing, so it is natural for us to rush to the emergency room if we lose, for instance, our sense of sight. But in spite of that swift reaction to sensory deprivation, we tend not to put other senses in equal footing with each other.
In the case of hearing, many may put off going to the doctor if they suddenly experience hearing loss because they think that it’s probably just allergies, a buildup of earwax, or something too trivial to require urgent professional inspection. More often than not, it’s actually a very serious matter.
What Is Sudden Hearing Loss?
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss, or sudden deafness as it is more commonly known, is a drastic reduction of hearing ability that may develop instantaneously to a few days at most. Although sudden deafness can be experienced at any age, it typically affects adults ranging from thirty to sixty years old, with an estimate of around five thousand cases every year.
Why Does It Occur?
Although it is mostly idiopathic, which means the causes are indeterminable, there are still a lot of possible causes for sudden hearing loss and thorough examinations by medical professionals are required to identify the exact cause of a particular patient’s sudden deafness, if at all discoverable.
The most common causes for sudden hearing loss are infectious diseases, head trauma or injury, autoimmune diseases, overuse of opiates, irregular blood circulation, and disorders of the inner ear such as Meniere’s disease.
How Can Sudden Hearing Loss Be Treated?
To diagnose a person with sudden sensorineural hearing loss, a doctor will usually conduct hearing tests to see if it is caused by an obstruction such as earwax buildup or by inability of the ear to process sound. Once diagnosed, the doctor may order other tests to study the patient’s blood and brain, among others, to check for underlying causes.
Since a definite cause of sudden hearing loss is typically hard to determine, there have been a number of treatments that were used over the years which include but are not limited to antiviral medications, vasodilators, carbon therapy, and nothing at all (since there have been reports of spontaneous recovery within a week or two). Of all the measures, corticosteroids have been widely regarded as the most effective.
If an underlying cause is discovered, additional treatments and medications may be needed. For instance, if the patient’s sudden deafness traces back to an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed. If the patient suffers from an autoimmune condition, certain drugs may be advised to control his or her immune system.
If you are experiencing sudden hearing loss, it is wise to seek help immediately, even if it can possibly subside by itself. Delaying treatment will render it more and more ineffective and will result in the hearing loss becoming permanent, therefore sudden hearing loss should be treated as an emergency just like a sudden loss of sight. Call Beltone Audiology today at (888) 210-5846 for more information!