Going to bed feeling fine and waking up unable to hear is scary and confusing. Known as sudden hearing loss, this condition is more common than you may think. Fortunately, for those with mild cases of sudden hearing loss, treatment is available, and many experience a full recovery.
What Is Sudden Hearing Loss?
Sudden hearing loss, also known as sudden deafness, is an unexplained and rapid loss of hearing that occurs either all at once or over a few days. Many simply wake up being unable to hear, while others report hearing a popping sound right before their hearing goes. In addition to not being able to hear, symptoms may include:
- Feeling of fullness in the ear.
The most common cause of sudden hearing loss is a viral infection. Loss of blood flow to the inner ear, a ruptured membrane within the ear and a stroke may also lead to this condition. For many, the reason behind their unexplained inability to hear is never determined.
Experts estimate that between one and six of every 5,000 Americans experience sudden hearing loss every year. These numbers may be even higher because so many cases go undiagnosed. While people of all age can suffer from this condition, adults in their late 40s and early 50s are most at risk.
Diagnosing Sudden Hearing Loss
Your doctor will need to make a diagnosis before treatment can begin. They will first rule out hearing loss caused by an obstruction in the ear, such as ear wax or fluid. Pure tone audiometry will then be performed. This test will measure how loud different frequencies need to be in order for you to hear them. This is important, as sudden hearing loss is defined as a loss of at least 30 decibels in three connected frequencies within 72 hours.
While not being able to hear the whispers from those sitting behind you at Marcus Majestic Cinema of Omaha would be nice at first, treatment is available.
Treatment for Sudden Hearing Loss
The most common treatment for sudden hearing loss is a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation, decrease swelling and help your body fight off an illness. The best results come from treatment started as soon as symptoms occur.
To learn more about sudden hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact Central Plains ENT today.