For most, hearing loss is a progressive condition that slowly worsens over time. But about one to six of every 5,000 individuals experience a rapid loss of hearing loss. This is known as sudden hearing loss or sudden deafness. We’ve provided an overview about sudden hearing loss below.
Who Develops Sudden Hearing Loss?
Sudden deafness affects men and women at an equal rate with the average age of onset between mid 40s to mid 50s.
Experts suspect that the current estimate of cases, one in every 5,000, is significantly lower than actual cases because many go unreported.
Sudden Hearing Loss Symptoms
The onset of sudden hearing loss differs between patients. Some report waking up and noticing their hearing seems different, while others hear a loud pop before their hearing goes away.
In addition to a loss of hearing, many report a feeling of fullness in the ear, dizziness and tinnitus.
If you’re walking through Medical Center Park or near construction and suddenly your hearing goes out in one ear, you should seek treatment right away, as sudden hearing loss is considered a medical emergency.
What Causes Sudden Hearing Loss?
There are a number of causes of this type of hearing loss. Possible causes include:
- Bacterial infection
- Viral infection
- Inner ear disorders
- Ototoxic medications
- Neurologic disorders
- Head trauma
- Autoimmune disease
- Circulation issues
Viral Infections and Hearing Loss
Only about 10-15% of sudden hearing loss cases have their cause identified. Experts assume when no obvious cause is present, the sudden deafness is related to a viral infection. This is because viruses can damage the structure of the inner ear, causing an inflammatory response or increase your susceptibility to infection.
How Is Sudden Hearing Loss Treated?
The first step toward treatment is to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional. In order to measure your loss, your audiologist will conduct a pure tone hearing test. Since sudden hearing loss is defined as hearing loss of at least 30 decibels in at least three connected frequencies, determining your exact degree of hearing loss is crucial.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of your loss. A blood test, imaging and balance tests may be used to try to determine the cause.
Steroids are often proscribed to try to suppress any inflammation in the ear. Early intervention is key, so seeking help at the first sign of sudden onset hearing loss is crucial. To learn more about sudden hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact Ormson Hearing Clinic today.