Sudden hearing loss is a medical condition that normally affects one ear differently than the other. Learn more about sudden hearing loss in this week’s latest blog!

What is Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden hearing loss refers to a reduction in hearing ability over a span of less than 72 hours. Oftentimes one ear is impacted more severely than the other, and people affected by sudden hearing loss in one ear can be compromised at completely different hearing frequencies. Sudden hearing loss is a serious condition and individuals who experience it should consult a doctor immediately.

Sudden hearing loss can manifest in different ways, but the condition has a few common characteristics. Many individuals experience sudden hearing loss when waking up in the morning or when they are trying to use a telephone. In some cases a loud pop is heard before the hearing loss episode takes place.

What Causes Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden hearing loss can be caused by bacterial infections, Meniere’s disease, and inner ear trauma. Due to the varying causes of sudden hearing loss in one ear, it isn’t uncommon for a physician to complete an MRI or blood test on a patient to analyze her condition.

A doctor may also use a test called pure tone audiometry. This specific hearing test is effective because it allows the doctor to determine if the hearing loss condition is caused by sound not reaching the inner ear or if it is caused by some kind of sensorineural defect. In other words, the hearing loss episode could be caused by wax or another kind of substance blocking transmission to the inner ear, or it could be caused by the ear not processing the transmitted sound.

In some cases sudden hearing loss can even be caused by a tumor or neurologic disease, which makes seeking immediate medical attention an even stronger imperative.

There are many preventative measures to lower the risk of sudden hearing loss. Avoiding loud environments can significantly lower your chances of sustaining sudden hearing loss.

Environments like loud concerts can do permanent damage with extended exposure time. Taking breaks from loud environments for as little as 15 minutes can prevent you from sustaining damage.

Sudden Hearing Loss In One Ear                                   

As sudden hearing loss usually causes different degrees of hearing capabilities in each ear, alternate hearing devices can be a welcome tool to use. For example, many individuals have greater improvements in their listening capabilities if they have a cochlear implant for the ear most affected by hearing loss and a hearing aid for the less affected ear.

Many individuals affected by sudden hearing loss in one ear are in the age range of 30-60, however children with differing degrees of hearing loss in each ear show the most improvement in hearing capabilities when given alternate hearing devices.

If you feel that your hearing loss is worsening, consult an audiologist. Detecting and treating such a medical condition is a great way to help preserve and improve your hearing!

Sources: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

By: Aaron Rodriques