For most people, hearing loss is a gradual process taking years to settle in. Sometimes you can pin it down to noise exposure, age or medical treatments. But there are times, thankfully not frequent, where one might wake up and just suddenly not hear from one ear. This is known as a sudden onset hearing loss. It is imperative to see an audiologist immediately! Even if it happened before, it is not normal that you lose your hearing suddenly.
Sudden Onset Hearing Loss can happen at any time, at any age. Often people report waking up in the morning and not hearing from one ear. A sudden drop over a few hours and can start with a ringing sound. The sensation is different to a wax blockage, where there is also a feeling of fullness. Wax blockages are easily fixed and generally non-harmful; sudden hearing loss, however, is different.
A hearing loss that doesn’t return within a couple of hours needs to be addressed immediately. If addressed within 72 hours, there is a chance of recovering all or most of the hearing. Thereafter, however, the hearing loss can be permanent, is often moderate to severe and may need a hearing aid. Because of this, calling an audiologist and letting them know will usually get you an emergency appointment, so don’t hesitate.
What causes a sudden hearing loss can come down to several factors and is generally unknown. Autoimmune diseases are among the culprits, for example, where the body suddenly attacks inner ear cells. More often than not, the reason for the loss won’t be found, unfortunately. Considering this can happen to someone with no history of hearing loss, the change can be dramatic and extremely stressful.
If identified early on – within 72 hours – there are several treatment options. The most common treatment involves steroids to boost the immune system and fight inflammation. If other causes of the loss can be identified, further treatments may be recommended. But in all cases, the effectiveness of treatments comes down to how quickly they are started.
So spread the word! Anyone at any age can suddenly lose their hearing and need help immediately. If it happens, call your Falls of Sound clinic for an urgent appointment. There’s no harm done if it’s a false alarm. And if not, it may just save your hearing, so don’t hesitate and call!