In our modern society, delaying health care is a situation that occurs more frequently than we’d like to acknowledge.
Think about people who ignore 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 those who are afraid of what they could hear so they stay away from the doctor’s office preferring to remain ignorant.
But what would you do if you needed more than something to fight off a sinus infection or your yearly flu vaccine? If you woke up one day and had total loss of hearing in one or both ears what would you do then?
If your answer is just to wait it out until your hearing returns, chances are it never will. Hearing professionals caution that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss treated immediately, peculiarly if it’s at the nerve level, it might become permanent.
What is Sudden Hearing Loss?
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.
Sudden hearing loss is more likely to happen than is commonly recognized. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to 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 experience sudden loss of hearing.
The term “sudden” is somewhat of a misnomer in this situation as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can take place over several hours or up to three days.
Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?
Doctors are usually not able to figure out the cause as it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate reality is that pinpointing a cause is possible in just about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Out of those cases 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, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the onset of sudden hearing loss gives you the best chance of recovering at least some of your normal function.
How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?
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 use.
As medicine has become more modern and more researchers have carried out additional studies on sudden loss of hearing, the recommended method of treatment has changed. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but for people who were worried about the side effects of medication or were unable to take oral steroids, this presented a challenge.
A 2011 clinical trial established by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids into the eardrum was just as effective as oral steroids, even allowing the medication to flow directly into the inner ear, without the downside of the oral alternatives. These injections are now a common approach to treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.
A group of tests that could diagnose the inherent issue causing your sudden loss of hearing can be set up by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting immediate medical attention is essential. 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 May be on The Horizon
Given the lack of solid information about the cause of sudden loss of hearing, continuing research goes deeper into what may be the culprit. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new development of infusing the drug into microspheres.
Researchers have proven that even though they might not have all the answers regarding sudden hearing loss, your chances of restoring your hearing is improved by getting early treatment. If you have hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should get in touch with a hearing specialist right away.