Sudden hearing loss is a marked decrease in hearing that occurs suddenly or over a short period of time (i.e. within hours or a day or two).
If you experience sudden hearing loss it is imperative that you immediately get your hearing tested at a hearing centre or that you see an ears, nose, and throat specialist (E.N.T) at an emergency centre.
Sudden hearing loss is divided into the following categories:
This occurs when the inner ear has a virus. Inflammation in the inner ear can cause hearing loss, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and a feeling “plugged up” as if they have a cold.
This develops when the blood supply to the inner ear is suddenly interrupted. Other than the sudden hearing loss, clients don’t usually experience any symptoms other than feeling like their ear is plugged.
This occurs when a benign tumour develops in the ear, where the pressure from the tumour causes hearing loss. This type of sudden hearing loss is quite rare.
Over the years I have met many clients who have woken up with, or throughout the day suddenly experienced hearing loss in one ear. Unfortunately, a family doctor may misdiagnose the root of the problem and will put patients on decongestants or antibiotics for a week or two. When this happens it is not until weeks later that they call our office for a hearing test. This prolongs the referral to an E.N.T., which sadly can drastically reduce their chances of restoring their hearing. For example, in the case of a viral form of sudden hearing loss immediate intervention by an E.N.T. is crucial within a matter of days, not weeks, in order to restore their hearing.
Steroids are the most common treatment for sudden hearing loss and are injected directly through the eardrum. Typically, some or all of the hearing is restored, however, if the treatment is unsuccessful a hearing aid may be recommended.
Valerie Stroeder, BC-HIS
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner