Image of someone going to ER to treat sudden hearing loss.

More frequently than we would care to admit, in today’s society, we put off on health care.

Consider the parents who regularly put the needs of their children before of their own, making certain their sons and daughters get proactive and reactive care when required, but failing to do the same for themselves. How about professionals who can’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are individuals who are afraid of what they might hear so they avoid 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 annual flu vaccine? If you woke up one morning and had complete hearing loss in one or both ears what would you do then?

If your answer is just to wait it out until your hearing returns, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing specialists caution that abrupt, temporary loss of hearing could advance to permanent hearing loss without immediate treatment, specifically if the damage is at the nerve level.

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the individuals 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.

Sudden hearing loss is more likely to happen than some might believe. In fact, studies estimate that there are between one and six people for every 5,000 yearly who experience sudden hearing loss. But according to the NIDC, if undiagnosed claims were included, that number would go up significantly. This means that this year about 400,000 Americans or more could experience sudden hearing loss.

The term “sudden” is a bit of a misnomer in this case as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can take place over several hours or up to three days.

What is The Cause of Sudden Hearing Loss?

Doctors are often unable to figure out the cause as it happens over hours or even days. The sad fact is that only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing have a cause that can be determined. Of those that hearing professionals can determine, 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, 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 hearing.

How do You Deal With Sudden Hearing Loss?

In cases when the cause is unknown and in many other cases, the usual course of treatment consists of corticosteroids. Decreasing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

As medicine has modernized and more researchers have conducted additional studies on sudden hearing loss, the recommended method of treatment has evolved. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but this presented a challenge for people 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 established by the NIDCD revealed that an injection of steroids into the eardrum proved to be just as reliable as oral steroids, even getting around the downsides to oral alternatives by allowing the medicine to go directly into the ear. These injections are now a common method of treatment in the offices of ear, nose and throat specialists around the country.

A panel of tests that may diagnose the root problem causing your sudden hearing loss can be ordered by your doctor and that’s another reason why seeking prompt medical attention is essential. These tests could include blood-work, an MRI or other methods of imaging and even an examination of your balance.

We Could be Getting Close to New Treatment For Sudden Hearing Loss

Given the lack of solid information around the cause of sudden loss of hearing, ongoing research goes deeper into what could be the cause. New advancements with infusing drugs into tiny microspheres would offer a new technique of administering the steroids in what could be a safer way.

Researchers have proven that even though they may not have all the answers concerning sudden hearing loss, your chances of getting your hearing back is improved by seeking early treatment. Make an appointment with a hearing professional if you are experiencing hearing loss of any type.