Sudden Hearing Loss

by | Jun 26, 2015 | news

Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden hearing loss – also known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) – can happen all at once, or over several days. Most people think they have a blockage in their ears, or are having an allergic reaction. They don’t seek treatment right away, but they should. Swift treatment could save your hearing.

See An Audiologist As Soon As You Notice Hearing Loss

Some people with sudden hearing lossnotice it when they first wake up. Others realize as the day goes on that they aren’t hearing as well as they did a few days ago. The hearing loss is very noticeable when holding a phone to the affected ear, or listening to music with headphones. And sudden hearing loss can be accompanied by a feeling of dizziness, or hearing a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears (called tinnitus).

Causes Of Sudden Hearing Loss

Only about 15 percent of cases of sudden sensorineural hearing losshave identifiable causes. Some of these include:

  • Tumors
  • Infections
  • Head trauma
  • Neurological diseases or disorders
  • Circulation issues
  • Ototoxic medications
  • Viral infections


How Do Viral Infections Cause Sudden Hearing Loss?

One of the most common causes of sudden sensorineural hearing lossis a viral infection that affects the auditory nerve. The infection causes the nerve to swell and get stuck inside the hard ear canal. If the infection isn’t treated quickly the nerve can die, and hearing is lost forever. That’s why it’s so important to seek treatment for sudden hearing loss immediately.

Who Gets Sudden Hearing Loss?

Ninety (90) percent of the time, sudden sensorineural hearing lossonly affects one ear. It occurs equally in men and women, and usually happens between the ages of 45-55, though it could happen at any age. While the current estimate is that it affects one out of every 5000 adults, the number could be much higher because so many cases of sudden hearing lossaren’t reported.

See An Audiologist Immediately

If you think you have sudden hearing loss, make an appointment with an ​experienced audiologist right away. The audiologist will conduct a hearing test that will determine if sound is in fact reaching the ear, and if your ear is processing the sound. If hearing loss is diagnosed, further tests including an MMR, blood tests and balance tests could be ordered to understand what’s causing the hearing loss.

Quick Treatment Is Key

Prompt attention to any sudden hearing loss is critical to taking care of your hearing health. Eighty-five (85) percent of people who see an audiologist right away can regain some or all of their hearing. Treatments include corticosteroids to decrease any swelling or inflammation, and antibiotics could be prescribed to treat an infection.

Catch Sudden Hearing Loss Early

About half of sudden sensorineural hearing loss cases will spontaneously recover on their own, but prompt attention from an experienced audiologist is critical to ensure that you don’t miss the treatment window before the hearing loss becomes permanent.

If you or someone you love experiences sudden hearing loss, call an experienced audiologist immediately to get the care you need, and get your hearing health back on track.

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Dr. Ana Anzola, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA Principal

Dr. Anzola received her Doctorate degree in Audiology (AuD) from the Arizona School of Health Sciences, and her Master’s Degree in Audiology and her Bachelor's Degree in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from Towson University. She has been a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) since 1995, board-certified by the American Board of Audiology (ABA), and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

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