Sudden hearing loss occurs so quickly – literally overnight or in an instant – that the change in hearing is dramatic and can be very upsetting. A sudden hearing loss can involve any part of the hearing system and something as straight forward as earwax can cause a sudden hearing loss.
However, the term usually refers to a sudden “nerve” or sensorineural hearing loss. The loss is almost always in one ear and may be accompanied by dizziness, tinnitus (ear noises), and/or aural fullness/pressure. Suspected causes of sudden sensorineural hearing loss include viral infection, ototoxic medications, acoustic trauma and meningitis. In most cases, the specific cause is never found (idiopathic). In cases with no known cause, viral infections or vascular blockage is suspected. There may be a history of a recent flu or cold, but in most cases, there are no other complaints. Partial or complete recovery occurs in about 60-65 percent of the cases.
Recovery can take anywhere from a few days to a few months. Those who seek immediate medical attention (within a week) have a higher recovery rate than those who wait. The recovery rate is also higher for those with milder hearing losses. Patients who present with a severe and/or profound hearing loss with accompanying symptoms such as dizziness and/or tinnitus are less likely to recover their hearing.
Someone who experiences sudden hearing loss should seek medical attention immediately so that medical treatment can be provided. The medical evaluation usually involves a thorough history, otologic and audiologic examination.
Remember, a sudden loss of hearing is not normal. Therefore, do not hesitate to contact your primary care physician or ear, nose and throat physician for immediate medical treatment.
Dr. Izzy and his staff are always available to answer your questions about hearing care. Feel free to visit our website at www.gardenstatehearing.com