More frequently than we would care to admit, in our modern day society, we put off on health care.
Think about people who disregard their own health care so they can obtain protection for their children. The same goes for the working professional who refuses to cancel a meeting to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment. Then there are people who abide by an “ignorance is bliss” attitude and stay away from the doctor’s office for fear of what they might hear.
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 loss of hearing in one if not both ears what would you do then?
If your answer is just to ignore it until your hearing comes back, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing specialists caution that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of right away, peculiarly if it’s at the nerve level, it might 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 surprised to find out how often sudden hearing loss happens. 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 about 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden loss of hearing.
Sudden hearing loss can actually occur over a few hours or days so the term is somewhat of a misconception.
Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?
Doctors are frequently unable to find the cause because it comes on over hours or even days. The sad reality is that only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing have a cause that can be determined. Out of those cases that hearing experts can pinpoint, the most common causes are infections, head trauma, autoimmune diseases, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation problems, neurological disorders and disorders of the inner ear.
As stated, getting 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 hearing.
Sudden Hearing Loss; How do You Treat it?
In cases when the cause is not known and in most other cases, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid usage.
The preferred method of treatment has evolved since researchers have done more studies on sudden hearing loss and medicine has advanced. Classically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this presented a challenge for those who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were leery of the side effects associated with the medication.
A 2011 clinical trial backed by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids through the eardrum was just as effective as oral steroids, even enabling the medication to go right into the inner ear, without the disadvantage of the oral alternatives. These injections have now become 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 underlying problem causing your sudden loss of hearing can be arranged by your doctor and that’s another reason why getting immediate medical attention is essential. These tests can even test whether you can keep your balance as well as performing blood-work and several imaging methods.
We Could be Getting Close to New Treatment For Sudden Hearing Loss
Researchers continue to work on the problem but truthfully, there is a lack of solid facts around the cause of sudden loss of hearing. New advancements with infusing drugs into tiny microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what could be a safer way.
While some aspects of sudden hearing loss remain a mystery, researchers and medical professionals have shown over and over that early treatment improves your chances of getting back the hearing you’ve lost. If you have hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should contact a hearing specialist immediately.