When is Hearing Loss an Emergency?

Hearing loss is often something that can happen with age. Common causes of hearing loss include: 

  • Presbycusis (natural aging process)
  • Noise
  • An illness or infection
  • Foreign object in your ear

Often, the hearing loss progresses slowly. This can make it difficult to notice until it is already having an impact on your quality of life. In some cases, however, hearing loss can be an emergency.

When is Hearing Loss an Emergency?

Hearing loss is an emergency if it comes on suddenly. What this means, is that you notice changes to your hearing overnight or over a period of a few days. This type of hearing loss is known as sudden onset hearing loss.

If this happens to you or your loved one, you should consider this an emergency and seek treatment immediately. Normal hearing loss happens very gradually and that makes it hard to recognize when it is happening.

Sudden onset hearing loss is also called sudden deafness or sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL). This condition is not very common, but those who do experience it often also can feel dizzy or disoriented. They may also experience tinnitus.

What Causes Sudden Onset Hearing Loss?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) the causes of sudden onset hearing loss can include:

  • Infectious diseases
  • Trauma, such as a head injury
  • Autoimmune diseases such as Cogan’s syndrome
  • Ototoxic drugs (drugs that harm the sensory cells in the inner ear)
  • Blood circulation problems
  • A tumor on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain
  • Neurologic diseases and disorders, such as multiple sclerosis
  • Disorders of the inner ear, such as Ménière’s disease

It’s important that you are diagnosed by a doctor or hearing professional. When you make an appointment, bring a list of all your medications with you and be ready to help your doctor diagnose the problem by recounting your hearing loss.

Only a medical professional can determine the cause and outline a treatment plan to help you. In some cases, a blood analysis will be necessary in addition to a hearing assessment to help with the diagnosis.

Seek treatment as quickly as possible, because fast treatment can yield better results.

Treatment for Sudden Onset Hearing Loss

The good news is that chances of recovering some of your hearing is possible with treatment. Of course, this depends on the diagnosis and prognosis made from your doctor or audiologist. The treatment depends on the cause, but common treatments for sudden onset hearing loss include:

  • Corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation and help your body fight off illness.
  • Antibiotics would be the treatment if the sudden hearing loss is caused by an infection.

You should discuss your individual situation with your doctor or audiologist.

Trust the Professionals at Hearing Balance & Speech Center

Interested in learning more about sudden onset hearing loss? The hearing healthcare specialists at Hearing, Balance & Speech Center would be happy to help. If you’d like to book an appointment, please call us today on 203-774-5642 or request an appointment online.

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The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness and to determine if the consumer may benefit from using hearing aids, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Assessment conclusion is not a medical diagnosis and further testing may be required to diagnose hearing loss. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.