More often than we would care to admit, in today’s society, we put off on health care.
Consider people who neglect their own health care so they can get protection for their children. What about professionals who won’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are people who abide by an “ignorance is bliss” attitude and avoid the doctor’s office for fear of what they might hear.
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 morning with sudden and complete loss of hearing in one or both ears?
If your answer is to just wait it out until your hearing returns, chances are it never will. Hearing experts warn that abrupt, temporary hearing loss might advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, particularly 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 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 know how frequently sudden hearing loss occurs. 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. With that being said, the NIDCD warns that the number of undiagnosed cases would cause that number to swell if you were to include them. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden loss of hearing.
Sudden hearing loss can actually take place over several hours or days so the term is a bit of a misnomer.
What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?
Because the onset can take place over hours or days, doctors are seldom able to discover what causes most cases. The sad fact is that identifying a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of individuals 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.
Your best possibility of recovering at least some of your regular hearing function, as mentioned, is to get treatment as soon as possible.
How do You Treat Sudden Hearing Loss?
In most cases, particularly those where the cause is not known, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid usage, the objective is to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling.
The recommended method of treatment has evolved since researchers have conducted more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has advanced. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this was a challenge for individuals who were unable to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects connected with the medication.
A 2011 clinical trial established by the NIDCD discovered that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as effective as oral steroids, even making it possible for the medication to go directly into the inner ear, without the downside of the oral alternatives. These injections are now a common method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.
Another reason why getting immediate medical care is so crucial is that your doctor may order a group of tests that could diagnose the root problem behind your sudden hearing loss or another threatening condition. These tests may 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 issue but frankly, there is a lack of solid facts about the cause of sudden hearing loss. New advancements with infusing drugs into little microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what may be a safer way.
While many aspects of sudden loss of hearing continue to be a mystery, researchers and medical professionals have proven repeatedly that early treatment improves your chances of restoring the hearing you’ve lost. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either gradual or sudden, you should contact a hearing specialist immediately.