Understanding Sudden Hearing Loss

Dr. David DekriekHealth, hearing health, hearing loss, research, Resource

Understanding Sudden Hearing Loss

Most of us think of hearing loss as a product of aging or perhaps because of exposure to a loud jarring sound like an explosion. Sudden hearing loss is just that – hearing loss that occurs suddenly or just within a few hours. The first step to understanding any type of hearing loss, and getting treatment, is getting a hearing evaluation at Fidelity Hearing Center.

What causes sudden hearing loss?

The medical world is still searching for the cause of sudden hearing loss. They have determined this phenomenon can occur very suddenly or in a very short time span, and the loss can range from mild to severe. With some cases of sudden hearing loss, hearing may return again, but sometimes sudden hearing loss becomes a permanent condition.

Although the exact cause of sudden hearing loss is still under study, doctors have determined that circulation in the inner ear is reduced when hearing loss, either over time or suddenly, occurs.
One theory on sudden hearing loss is that it is caused by stress. Stress has been found to lead to circulation disorders. Other possible causes include: viral infections, arteriosclerosis and related circulatory disorders, metabolic issues such as diabetes or high cholesterol, ruptured ear drums, spine injuries, blood clots, a drastic decrease in blood flow to the inner ear, autoimmune diseases and chronic middle ear infections.

Types of sudden hearing loss

Sudden idiopathic hearing loss: Idiopathic means “unknown or without recognizable cause.” This is the most common and sudden type of hearing loss. Examinations and evaluations can not figure out the cause of the hearing loss.

Stress-related sudden hearing loss: Stress has been noted as a frequent trigger for sudden hearing loss. You need to reduce your stress levels when coping with demanding situations. Regular exercise, even a brisk walk around the block, is helpful in eliminating stress and boosting your circulation.

Symptoms of Sudden Hearing Loss

Increased ear pressure and a ringing in the ears are often the first signs of hearing loss. Your ears may feel heavy and full. Symptoms happen immediately or over a period of a couple of days and usually occur in one ear. The discomfort can disappear, but in the worst cases, permanent hearing loss is possible.

A simple earache is not a common precursor to sudden hearing loss. Pain in just one ear may have different causes and may mean you have an infection in one ear. However, if the sound in one ear seems muffled and you are also experiencing balance issues, it may be the start of sudden hearing loss.
The most common things to be aware of are: hearing loss in one ear with no discernable cause, no earache accompanying that hearing loss and – its only in one ear. This may be accompanied by  balance issues or dizziness and loss of feeling in the outer ear as well as pressure in the ear and a ringing in the ear.

Diagnosing sudden hearing loss

Determining if sudden hearing loss is the issue requires a process of elimination. Tests are performed to determine if there is an infection, an obstruction, or an injury to the ear. Hearing tests can determine how much of a hearing loss there is and if it is in the inner or middle ear. Sudden hearing loss will be classified as high, mid or low frequency range.

Sudden hearing loss treatment

You should have your hearing tested at Fidelity Hearing Center as quickly as possible if you suspect you are suffering from or beginning to experience sudden hearing loss. It is also important to visit a primary care provider if you experience a sudden hearing loss. If the sudden hearing loss occurred more than a year ago and you are still experiencing hearing loss, it is likely hearing devices will be needed to treat the condition.

Sometimes stimulating the circulation in the inner ear is helpful. Blood supplies the inner ear with nutrients and if there has been a reduction in the circulation, sensory hair cells in the ear may have been compromised. There are medications which can improve the blood flow.

Visit Us at Fidelity Hearing Center

Regular hearing tests at Fidelity Hearing Center are important for establishing a baseline for your hearing. If you suspect you are experiencing sudden hearing loss, a test at Fidelity will compare your hearing at the present time to your hearing when you were last tested. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.