More frequently than we would care to admit, in our modern day society, we put off on health care.
Consider the parents who consistently put the needs of their children in front of their own, making sure their kids receive proactive and reactive care when necessary, but failing to do the same for themselves. What about professionals who can’t squeeze in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy going to meetings. Then there are those 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 just your annual preventive flu vaccine or something to get rid of a sinus infection? What would you do if you woke up one day with unexpected and complete loss of hearing in one or both ears?
If your answer is just to wait it out until your hearing comes back, there’s a good chance it never will. Hearing experts warn that if you don’t have sudden temporary hearing loss treated 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 rapid 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 is commonly recognized. 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 taken into consideration, that number would go up significantly. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden hearing loss.
The term “sudden” is somewhat of a misnomer in this instance as what’s categorically labeled as sudden hearing loss can happen over several hours or up to three days.
Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?
Doctors are usually unable to find the cause as it comes on over hours or even days. The unfortunate truth is that pinpointing a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. Of those that hearing experts can determine, the most common causes include autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.
As stated, receiving treatment as soon as possible after the onset of sudden hearing loss gives you the best chance to recover at least some of your normal hearing.
How do You Handle Sudden Hearing Loss?
In situations when the cause is unknown and in many other cases, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. As with all steroid usage, the goal is to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling.
The recommended method of treatment has changed since researchers have done more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has modernized. Historically, doctors prescribed these steroids in pill form, but for people who were worried about the side effects of medication or were not able to use oral steroids, this offered a challenge.
A 2011 clinical trial backed by the NIDCD discovered that an injection of steroids through the eardrum proved to be just as effective as oral steroids, even getting around the drawbacks of oral alternatives by allowing the medicine to flow right into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country regularly give these injections in the office.
A panel of tests that could diagnose the underlying problem causing your sudden loss of hearing can be set up by your doctor and that’s another reason why seeking prompt medical attention is important. These tests can even check your ability to keep your balance as well as performing blood-work and several imaging techniques.
We May be Getting Close to New Treatment For Sudden Hearing Loss
Researchers continue to work on the issue but frankly, there is a lack of solid facts around the cause of sudden hearing loss. A potentially safer way of administering steroids is the new advancement of infusing the drug into microspheres.
While some aspects of sudden hearing loss remain a mystery, researchers and medical experts have shown repeatedly that early treatment improves your chances of getting back the hearing you’ve lost. Make an appointment with a hearing expert if you have hearing loss of any kind.