Sudden Hearing Loss: When to Be Worried

May 15, 2016 6:10 am

woman with hearing aid

If you’ve noticed that you or your loved ones are consistently asking for others to repeat what they have said, or the volume is turned up on the television or radio to a point where it is uncomfortably loud for others in the room, you or your loved one may be experiencing sudden hearing loss. Hearing loss often occurs over time, with patients scarcely realizing that their senses have diminished. In fact, it’s most common for spouses or children to notice before the patient. In contrast, sudden hearing loss is not as gradual or unnoticeable. Often the patient will wake up one morning and be unable to hear at all in one ear.

How to Know When Sudden Hearing Loss is Serious

With any loss of a sensory function, you should immediately seek a doctor’s advice. A simple visit to your ear, nose, and throat doctor can quickly determine the best course of action. Often, patients don’t realize the possible severity with sudden hearing loss. This is because if the issue is in one ear, rather than both, they assume it’s a temporary condition. Many patients believe it may only be clogged with wax and they might treat it as a simple nuisance instead of seeking treatment right away. Unlike blurry vision or loss of peripheral vision (things that are well-known to be symptoms of larger health issues, such as diabetes or stroke), sudden hearing loss is not always believed to be a serious condition.

While it is possible to have hearing loss in one ear due to a buildup of wax, sudden hearing loss will often come with other symptoms. Common complaints for patients with sudden hearing loss include:

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Dizziness
  • Some patients describe a funny feeling in the whole side of their head, rather than just the ear.

What causes sudden hearing loss?

There are many different situations that result in sudden hearing loss. There might be an autoimmune disease causing the condition or it may be a blockage in the cochlear artery. Other causes might include a reaction to prescription or an infection. A thorough exam can determine when these issues are present, and your physician can treat that problem to remedy the hearing loss.

In cases where the root cause can’t be found, sudden hearing loss may be treated with steroids or an injected medication if there are no other conditions which would be negatively impacted by the treatment.

sudden hearing loss graphic

Has someone in your family experienced symptoms consistent with sudden hearing loss?

At Hear Again, we are focused on early detection and treatment as a way to prevent permanent damage. We recommend visiting your physician if you are experiencing the symptoms of sudden hearing loss. However, if you or a loved one is experiencing a gradual decline in hearing ability, it may be time to schedule a free hearing screening and explore the best course of action to hear again.