What to do if you suddenly experience hearing loss
As a Patient Care Coordinator, nothing is more alarming then getting a frantic call from a patient in panic mode because they suddenly lost their hearing. Working at the front desk and handling calls from patients at the Chicago office for the last six years, I’ve noticed an increase in these cases of sudden idiopathic hearing loss, or “sudden deafness”. This phenomenon, known as Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL) is often unexplained. Although the exact cause, in many cases, is unknown, some causes for SSHL are barotrauma, certain medications, a viral attack and autoimmune disorders. SSHL is characterized as a rapid loss, usually in one ear, either all at once or over the course of a few days.
It concerns me that patients often do not realize the severity of their sudden hearing loss. Permanent ramifications, such as irreversible hearing impairment and/or constant ringing in the ear, called tinnitus, can result if the loss is not treated immediately.
Working in one of the premier audiology offices in the world, I know what is at stake for these patients, and always find ways to fit them in to see one of our Doctors of Audiology.
The audiologist first determines that the sudden hearing loss is not due to allergies, sinus infection, earwax clogging the ear canal, or other common conditions. If the loss is indeed SSHL, we refer immediately to an ENT (Otolaryngologist), or the nearest ER. Oral steroids or steroid injections into the ear is the standard treatment for SSHL. Steroids can minimize and/or reverse the hearing loss.
Most importantly, know that you are not alone. If you experience sudden deafness, the hearing professionals at the Hearing Health Center will do everything they can to combat the hearing loss and return your hearing back to normal.
NIDCD (National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders) Fact Sheet
(1) Sudden Deafness
NIH Pub. No. 00-4757
The NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that provide information on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech and language. Visit the NIDCD website at https://nidcd.nih.gov/directory to search the directory.