Sudden Hearing Loss: What You Need to Know.
Even though the name implies it, sudden hearing loss doesn’t
always happen all at once. You usually get it in just one ear. You may
not lose your hearing completely.
If you think you might have it, don’t ignore it and just hope
it gets better. Allergies, earwax buildup, and sinus infections can
make hearing tough. But this may also be a sign of a more serious
Sometimes hearing returns on its own. But usually the faster you get treatment, the better the outcome.
So see your doctor right away.
What Does Sudden Hearing Loss Feel Like?
You may lose your hearing all at once. Or it may take a few
days to develop. In general, the condition involves a loss of hearing
that happens over 72 hours or less.
Nine out of 10 people lose hearing in one ear. You may still
hear some sounds out of the affected ear, but they’ll be softer. For
example, a normal speaking voice may sound like a whisper.
Some people first notice hearing loss when they try to talk
on the phone with the affected ear. Others hear a loud “pop” right
before their hearing goes away.
More symptoms often happen. Dizziness and ringing in the ears are common. You may also feel pressure in your ear.
Doctors often don’t know what made a person lose their hearing.
Common causes include:
- Ear wax or small objects block the ear canal
- An autoimmune disease
- Diseases caused by bacteria or viruses
- A head injury
- Hearing a sudden, very loud noise
- Side effects of certain medicines
Hearing loss may also be a symptom of a more serious
condition, like a stroke or meningitis. These conditions usually have
other symptoms, too.
How It's Diagnosed
A doctor may give you a hearing test where you listen to
different tones. He may also look inside your ear. That peek can reveal
problems, like too much wax, or fluid in the ear canal or behind the ear
You may also get balance tests, an MRI, or a blood test.
Corticosteroids are the most common treatment for sudden
hearing loss. They can reduce swelling, fight inflammation, and help
your body heal itself.
Your doctor may prescribe corticosteroid pills. Or you may get a shot directly into your ear.
If your doctor finds an underlying cause of your hearing
loss, he may be able to treat that condition. Ear infections, for
example, are often treated with antibiotics.
What to Do if You Lose Your Hearing
Get medical care ASAP if it happens all of a sudden or over a
few days. There’s no way for you to tell if it’s due to something
simple, like allergies, or something more serious. And even if the cause
is small, early treatment can help you regain more of your hearing.