Have you ever heard of fluctuating hearing loss? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. As one might suspect from the name, fluctuating hearing loss is hearing loss that comes and goes. It can occur in both adults and children, and it has a variety of different causes. Sometimes fluctuating hearing loss can cause permanent hearing changes in those who experience it.

Fluctuating hearing loss is different from progressive hearing loss, where hearing loss gets worse over time. Most hearing loss, especially age-related hearing loss, is progressive. Fluctuating hearing loss can occur in people with normal hearing or in people who already have hearing loss.

Signs of fluctuating hearing loss

It’s important to know the signs of fluctuating hearing loss, especially in children. If a child is experiencing fluctuating hearing loss, it’s essential to get them medical help as soon as possible to prevent the hearing loss from becoming more serious. Signs to look for in children include:

  • Babies: Not showing interest in music, or not quieting when the mother speaks
  • Children without hearing loss: More easily distracted and less responsive; not understanding directions correctly
  • Children with hearing loss: Not wanting to wear hearing aids or acting like hearing aids aren’t working

What does fluctuating hearing loss mean?

Fluctuating hearing loss can be a symptom of several different diseases and disorders. Meniere’s disease (MD) is one of the most common cause of fluctuating hearing loss. MD is an inner ear disorder that can lead to vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and ear pressure. MD normally occurs only in one ear and is generally a chronic condition.

Another common cause of fluctuating hearing loss is autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED). AIED typically presents in both ears, unlike MD. AIED can occur as part of other autoimmune syndromes, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

If you’re experiencing only in one ear, it could also be due to something called sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL), which is a broad term used to describe hearing loss that occurs within about 72 hours. This quick onset of hearing loss has a wide range of causes, including vascular disease and ear trauma.

Additionally, certain medications can cause fluctuating hearing loss. Medications that cause hearing issues are called ototoxic, and most people are not aware their medicines might cause hearing loss.

Treatment for fluctuating hearing loss

In order to properly treat fluctuating hearing loss, your physician or audiologist needs to determine the cause. This can be difficult, because fluctuating hearing loss is a symptom of many different conditions. If the fluctuating hearing loss is permanent, hearing loss or cochlear implants may be the best way to treat it.

By: Elena McPhillips


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