Understanding Sudden Hearing Loss: Causes, Symptoms, and Detection Techniques

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss, commonly known as sudden hearing loss, is a swift-onset condition impacting the inner ear due to damage to its neural connections and sensory apparatus. This disorder manifests as a significant, unexplained reduction in hearing ability that can emerge suddenly or gradually over a few days. While typically affecting one ear, instances of bilateral hearing loss (affecting both ears) have also been observed.

Understanding Sudden Hearing Loss Causes, Symptoms, and Detection Techniques

Individuals often notice symptoms upon waking in the morning or during activities necessitating the predominant use of the affected ear. Some report a sudden explosive "pop" sound just before experiencing hearing loss, which serves as a prominent indicator of this condition.

Despite its rarity—statistics suggesting an incidence of 6 cases per 5,000 people, predominantly in adults aged between 45 and 55—this disorder frequently goes undiagnosed, calling for heightened awareness and prompt detection.

Below, we present the main symptoms, causes, and treatments of sudden hearing loss, reminding you that, if you identify with the symptoms, it is imperative that you go to a specialist who can provide you with the appropriate care and treatment.

Owing to its abrupt and unforeseeable nature, pinpointing the precise cause of sudden hearing loss often proves challenging. Nevertheless, experts concur on two primary factors that may be associated with this condition:

  • Head injuries
  • Rapid and significant changes in pressure
  • Ototoxic medications affecting the inner ear
  • Bacterial or viral infections

    Underlying Health Conditions

    At times, sudden hearing loss serves as a symptom rather than an isolated ailment. Consequently, specialists, upon detecting this disorder, conduct comprehensive tests to eliminate potential associations with conditions such as auditory nerve tumors, multiple sclerosis, or other viral-related illnesses.  

    Key Indications of Sudden Hearing Loss The hallmark symptom, as previously emphasized, involves a sudden, complete, or partial loss of hearing in one or both ears. 

    Nonetheless, additional indicators might include:

    • Ringing or buzzing sensations in the ear
    • Sensation of blockage
    • Vertigo
    • Impaired balance
    • Unsteadiness

      If you recognize these symptoms, seeking immediate medical attention is imperative. Regrettably, many individuals often dismiss these signs as mere consequences of common ailments like the flu. However, the likelihood of restoring hearing following sudden loss heavily relies on the promptness of treatment.

      How is sudden hearing loss diagnosed? 

      Sudden sensorineural hearing loss

      The first thing to do when going to a specialist is to rule out the possibility of hearing loss due to obstruction, whether due to some external agent or excess earwax. If after routine examinations, the specialist does not identify these physical causes, he proceeds to perform a pure tone test. With audiometry, the different frequencies and tones that are perceived by the patient are measured. If a loss of at least 30 decibels occurs, it is considered sudden hearing loss.

      Once the diagnosis is made, a series of tests are performed to try to determine the underlying causes or, conversely, determine that the cause of the hearing loss is unknown. These tests usually include blood tests and balance tests.

      Treatments for sudden hearing loss

      The most common treatment for sudden hearing loss, given the limited possibility of knowing its specific cause, is the use of corticosteroids. Corticosteroids attack a wide range of diseases, infections, and medical problems, reducing inflammation and fighting viruses and bacteria. In this way, corticosteroids are a way to attack different possible causes at the same time.

      Treatment with corticosteroids should be started as soon as possible, even if diagnostic tests have not been completed, this allows reducing the possibility of hearing loss sustained over time. If the underlying cause of sudden hearing loss is known, the specialist can change or complement corticosteroid treatment with specific treatments for the cause.

      In most cases, with diagnosis at the appropriate time and the correct prescription of treatment, patients with sudden hearing loss recover their hearing completely, and only in a third of cases do patients recover it partially. However, if the hearing loss has been severe or the patient does not respond to treatments, the specialist may recommend the use of hearing aids that allow correct adaptation and sound compensation. 

      In light of the complex nature of sudden hearing loss, timely diagnosis and intervention are paramount for successful management and potential recovery. Do not disregard any alarming symptoms, as swift action can significantly impact the outcome of treatment and rehabilitation.

      ELEHEAR Alpha Pro

      In addition, for individuals facing the challenges of mild to moderate hearing loss, ELEHEAR OTC (Over-the-Counter) Hearing Aids provide a comprehensive solution, delivering improved auditory experiences and enhancing quality of life. ELEHEAR OTC Hearing Aids aims to empower individuals to rediscover the pleasure of clear and immersive sound. Explore the transformative possibilities with ELEHEAR OTC Hearing Aids and reconnect with the beauty of seamless communication and connection.

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      ELEHEAR's editor is dedicated to sharing popular science information about OTC hearing aids. They also provide helpful tutorials on how to use ELEHEAR hearing aids, ensuring users have access to valuable knowledge and guidance for a seamless hearing experience.
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