Suddenly losing your ability to hear can be scary, but there are treatment options available. Below is a breakdown of the causes and symptoms of this condition as well as your options for treatment.
What Is Sudden Hearing Loss?
The official medical definition of sudden hearing loss, also known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss is unexplained, rapid loss of hearing that happens all at once of over a period of 24 hours.
Most with this condition will wake up in the morning to discover they cannot hear. Others report hearing a “pop” right before their hearing disappears. Not to be confused with the fireworks show at Mountain Valley Park.
Additional symptoms that accompany hearing loss include:
- Feeling of fullness in the ear.
Causes of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss occurs when there is an issue with the inner ear. This can be caused by a viral infection, loss of blood flow, head trauma, stroke or even a ruptured membrane in the ear. Additional secondary causes may include:
- Meniere’s disease.
- Autoimmune inner ear disease.
- Acoustic neuroma.
Diagnosing Sudden Hearing Loss
In order to make a diagnosis, your doctor will first rule out other more common conditions such as conductive hearing loss, a buildup of fluid in the ear or impacted earwax. Then they will perform a pure tone audiometry, which measures how loud different frequencies have to be in order for you to hear them. This test is important, as one of the main signs of sudden hearing loss is a loss of at least 30 decibels in three connected frequencies within a 72-hour period.
Blood tests, imaging tests and balance tests may be ordered to try to determine the cause of your sudden hearing loss.
Treatment for Sudden Hearing Loss
A dose of oral steroids for one to two weeks is the most common treatment for this type of hearing loss. Additional treatments are dependent on the cause of your symptoms. Antioxidants can help promote the healing of the inner ear. Blood thinners can be used for those who suffered from a stroke. Surgery may be recommended to repair a ruptured membrane in the ear.
To learn more about sudden hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with an expert, contact Prescott ENT today.