Understanding Sudden Hearing Loss

Understanding Sudden Hearing Loss

 

Although most people lose their hearing progressively as a natural part of the aging process, other adults have an entirely different experience. Imagine that one day you woke up with noticeable hearing loss. Some people have this experience in both ears, while others have sudden hearing loss in only one ear. Those who have sudden hearing loss in only one ear might not notice until they try to use that ear to use the phone. Still others might hear a sudden popping sound after which they notice that their hearing is seriously compromised. Some have a feeling of dullness, fullness, or ringing in the ear prior to sudden hearing loss, while others simply lose their hearing without warning.

These experiences of sudden hearing loss are varied, and the causes can be equally varied, as well. In order to better understand sudden hearing loss, let’s take a look at the range of possible causes, diagnosis and treatment, as well as the ways you can prevent sudden hearing loss from happening in the first place.

Causes of Sudden Hearing Loss

The causes of sudden hearing loss are as varied as the experiences mentioned above. The most obvious cause of sudden hearing loss is an injury that affects the ears. These injuries may be caused by an accident or other catastrophic event, but the injury can also happen in terms of exposure to injurious sound. Sound in itself is merely a pressure wave pressing itself against the particles of air, so a very loud blast, explosion, or car crash can create such air pressure that it damages the sensitive features of the inner ear.

Other major causes include infections, either viral or bacterial, and autoimmune diseases can cause sudden hearing loss, as well. Certain drugs have been found to cause sudden hearing loss, particularly those used to treat cancer or other severe infections. Neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, can cause sudden hearing loss, as can disorders of the inner ear, such as Ménière’s Disease.

One fascinating place for further research is the link between circulation and cardiovascular health and the possibility of sudden hearing loss. The organs of the middle and inner ear require adequate blood flow to do their work of hearing, and poor circulation can have an effect on the ability to properly hear. Stress may be a cause of this type of cardiovascular disorder, so stress may be indirectly linked to sudden hearing loss, as well.

The main preventative measures to sudden hearing loss are to wear hearing protection in risky situations and maintain good overall health through diet, exercise, and regular checkups with your primary care physician.

Diagnosis of Sudden Hearing Loss

Although there is a wide range of causes of sudden hearing loss, only about 10 percent of cases can be accurately diagnosed. Many cases of sudden hearing loss are mysterious in origin, and audiologists and hearing specialists are tasked with trying to devise a treatment plan. The first step is to observe the ear itself and make sure there is not an obstruction or visible problem in the outer or middle ear. Pure tone audiometry is the proper examination to discover if a person has suffered sudden hearing loss. If that is the case, the patient will have lost at least 30 decibels in three connected frequencies within a 72-hour period. Many report that other people’s voices have suddenly begun to sound like they are whispering. Those patients who have other symptoms may need other tests to determine the cause of sudden hearing loss and to come up with a treatment plan.

Treatment and Prevention of Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden hearing loss treatment plans depend both on the cause and on the degree of severity. If the cause is unknown, the most common treatment plan is to administer corticosteroids. With the administration of these steroids, it is crucial to get going right away, ideally within two to four months of the beginning of the incident. If you feel that you have experienced sudden hearing loss, contact us at Hearing Consultants.

Depending on the severity of the condition, digital hearing aids may be a possible treatment plan, and more severe cases or total deafness may even require cochlear implants to assist the remaining hearing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Common Questions About Hearing Loss

Common Questions about Hearing Loss

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There’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there about hearing loss and hearing aids. The best thing to do is get a hearing test at Hearing Consultants and that will determine if you have hearing loss. We can answer all your questions and make sure you are 100% confident about your treatment plan. Have you heard these mis-statements about hearing loss and hearing aids?

Here’s some up to date information to correct common myths about hearing loss:

Myth #1: Surgery can fix it

The most recent statistics show surgery is an option to correct hearing loss in adults in only five to 10 percent of cases. The best treatment for hearing loss is a correctly fitted and adjusted pair of hearing aids – we’ll even let you test drive a set before you buy!

Myth #2: I only need one hearing aid

Age related hearing loss occurs in both ears. If you think one “hears” better than the other, you tend to favor it and tell people to talk to you in your “good” ear. Two hearing aids will adjust your hearing, so you have two good ears. Sound comes from all around you and you need both ears processing the sound and translating it. Both ears process the sound into one thought might be a simpler way of putting it. You probably don’t even realize you are carrying on conversations tilting your head to one side or constantly turning your head because you believe you can hear better in that “good” ear.

Myth #3: Hearing loss only affects old people and I’m not old

Hearing loss affects all age groups Two-thirds of those with hearing loss are younger than age 64. Six million people between the ages of 18 and 44 in the United States have some hearing loss and more than 1 million school-age children have hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss, that occurs if you have been subjected to a barrage of loud noise like at work, can occur at any age.

Myth #4: Hearing loss is normal as you get old

Yes, but so is vision issues. You don’t mind wearing glasses or contacts to correct your vision. Why shouldn’t you wear hearing aids to correct your hearing loss.

Myth #5: Hearing loss can’t be corrected

That’s only true if there’s been significant nerve damage. About 95 percent of those experiencing hearing loss can be helped with hearing devices and if tinnitus or ringing in the years is an issue, that, too can be helped with hearing aids. Many hearing aid models come with phone apps and small pocket remotes that will help with tinnitus.

Myth #6: Everybody is going to be staring at those big hearing aids

People are going to be staring at you if you keep asking them to repeat themselves. People are going to wonder if you answer a question in appropriately because you didn’t’ hear it. They are going to wonder why you’ve got the TV turned up so high.
Hearing aids aren’t bulky like those molded hunks of plastic your grandparents might have had to wear. They are tiny miracles of technology that fit inside your ear canal and no one will know they are there but you. Or, they tuck flat behind your ear. Or, they have a tiny clear receiver that many people mistake as a high-tech Bluetooth device. If they are outside the ear canal they contour to the back of your ear and can be ordered in a number of flesh colors or colors to match your hair. Or, if you desire, you can get them in designer colors.

Myth #7: Everything is too loud with hearing devices

Not true. They have miniature microprocessors that adjust to sound levels. It isn’t necessary to turn them up or turn them down, they will even self-adjust! If you enjoy the outdoors, there are even special hearing aids that modulate wind noise. They even “remember’ if you had to adjust the sound and the next time you are at that same location, they automatically adjust to the setting you found comfortable.

Myth #8: I’m worried about the cost

At Hearing Consultants we can show you models and options to fit your needs and your pocket book and remember, there’s a trial period for the hearing aids so you aren’t going to get one that you will wear once and then put away. Don’t delay, call Hearing Consultants today for a hearing test.