Sudden Hearing Loss

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

According to the American Hearing Research Foundation, sudden hearing loss is a loss "greater than 30 dB hearing reduction, over at least three contiguous frequencies, occurring over a period of 72 hours or less." The amount of loss varies by patient, but it often affects both ears.

Causes of Sudden Hearing Loss

Unexpectedly and quickly losing your hearing can often be attributed to an infection, inner ear problems such as a neurological issue, a circulatory issue, or even wax build-up. Sudden hearing loss is diagnosed by performing a hearing assessment and determining if there was a recent decline. Once that is determined, an audiologist will look for the cause of the loss whether it be a possible infection, a neurological issue, or other cause. Many cases of sudden hearing loss do not have an identifiable root cause.

Treatment of Sudden Hearing Loss

The treatment of sudden hearing loss is largely dependent upon the identified cause. If an infection is found, antivirals, steroids or other medication can help alieve the problem. Often, especially in the case of an unidentifiable cause, no treatment will be given. Many cases of sudden hearing loss have a spontaneous recovery.

Persistent Hearing Loss

If sudden hearing loss does not improve with treatment or time, patients may be advised to work with their audiologist to get fitted for a hearing aid or some other hearing aid device. A properly fitted hearing aid can greatly improve quality of life of someone who has experienced sudden hearing loss that is not easily cured.

Coping with Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden hearing loss can be a difficult to cope with. If you experience sudden hearing loss, it's important to talk with your doctor right away. Though there may be a simple cause, if it is something more serious, it's important to identify right away to prevent further hearing loss.


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