Sudden Hearing Loss Causes & Treatments

You might not realize how much you rely on your ears, but you will if you experience sudden auditory loss. If you are suddenly experiencing a loss of hearing, here is what you need to know to get help.

What Is Sudden Hearing Loss?

There are several different types of auditory loss a person can experience, some of which take time to develop and worsen. In some cases, people may not even notice hearing loss because of the slow rate it is occurred at. Sudden auditory loss, on the other hand, occurs either all at once or in just a few days. This sudden onset of auditory loss is a shocking change for a lot of people, making it even more difficult to cope with.

Sudden hearing loss is also known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), a condition that is caused by a problem with the inner ear. Although it varies from person to person, this condition often only affects one ear. You may notice SSHL upon waking up when you lay down on one side and cannot hear or immediately after hearing popping noise.

ear model

What Causes Sudden Hearing Loss?

SSHL can be caused by a variety of problems with the inner ear but figuring out the cause of the problem is not always easy. As a matter of fact, a cause can only be determined in about 10 percent of SSHL cases. Still, it is important to visit a doctor right away if you have a sudden loss of hearing, because many of the conditions that cause SSHL can leave your auditory health damaged for life.

As far as what can cause SSHL, there are several conditions. Some of the most common causes of SSHL include:

  • Head trauma
  • Infections
  • Circulation problems
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Exposure to certain drugs
  • Neurological conditions
  • Inner ear disorders

As soon as you notice symptoms of SSHL, you should visit Harbor Audiology & Hearing Services to have auditory tests done and figure out what is causing your sudden auditory loss. While some patients do recover all or most of their hearing without significant medical treatment, many conditions that cause SSHL require treatment if you want to avoid permanent damage. Getting a diagnosis from an auditory expert is the best way to figure out what is causing your SSHL and what you can do to start the path to recovery.

How Is Sudden Hearing Loss Treated?

The good news about SSHL is that many patients do recover at least some of the hearing they lost, and there are several treatment options depending on what is causing your auditory loss. Even more important, you can get general treatment even if you are not able to determine the cause of your SSHL. In most cases where a cause of sudden auditory loss cannot be determined, the patient is given corticosteroids. These steroids can reduce swelling and inflammation and help your body fight off illnesses that can cause sudden auditory loss. These steroids either come in the form of an injection to the inner ear or a pill, which you can get a recommendation for from an auditory expert at Harbor Audiology & Hearing Services.

If your sudden auditory loss is caused by an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. If one of the drugs you have been prescribed could be causing your sudden hearing loss, your doctor may recommend a different drug that offers the same effect. The best thing you can do to find the right treatment option is to visit Harbor Audiology & Hearing Services for a diagnosis.

hearing loss treatments

How Do You Treat Mixed Hearing Loss?

SSHL is caused by a problem with the inner ear, while some types of auditory loss involve outer ear problems. Mixed auditory loss is a result of both inner and outer ear problems, which means the outer ear has trouble sending sounds to the inner ear which has trouble dealing with them. While inner ear problems can be more difficult to correct and are sometimes permanent, outer ear problems can generally be treated.

As far as the inner ear problem goes, cochlear implants are the most common treatment option. If it is a case of conductive auditory loss caused by an obstruction such as a tumor, surgery may be an option.

Outer ear problems can often be treated with an auditory aid, although you need an aid that is powerful enough to treat the sensorineural (inner ear) problem. For this reason, a behind-the-ear hearing aid is the most common prescription for mixed auditory loss.

When you experience sudden auditory loss, the best thing you can do is visit a doctor as soon as possible to determine the cause. This is the best chance you have of recovering your hearing and resuming life as usual. If you are suffering from SSHL, contact an expert at Harbor Audiology & Hearing Services today.