Causes and Symptoms of Sudden Hearing Loss


Sudden loss of hearing is a mysterious condition that demands immediate attention and quick hearing loss treatment. Often ear problems are not treated with the same urgency as the eye or another problem of the body is. Most often, it is misinterpreted as having been caused by earwax plugging the ear canal, sinus or allergies and hence delay in its analysis occurs. Sudden hearing loss often termed as the sensorineural hearing loss if not treated within a few days, gradually gives way to permanent hearing loss. It is therefore necessary to address the mysterious issue of the sudden hearing loss with utmost emergency and the problem should not be ignored for long.

• How to recognize the occurrence of the problem?

Judging whether the ear is merely affected by ear wax build-up or whether it is a serious cause of deafness is difficult. One should find out if it is a hearing loss that requires immediate medical attention. Quite contrary to the gradual formation of ear wax inside the ear, hearing loss occurs fast within a few hours to a couple of days, thereby making it a challenge to determine its seriousness. Occurring mostly to people within thirty to sixty years of age, it happens mostly as a loss of hearing in one ear. One may recognize the problem while trying to use the deafened ear during a phone call or in the morning or one may even hear a loud ‘pop’ just before they are rendered deaf suddenly. This can lead to dizziness and is often accompanied by the ringing of the ears.

• Multiple causes of loss of hearing:

Sudden hearing loss can happened due to a number of reasons. One possibility is the hindrance in the artery that pumps blood to the ear. Another cause may be the usage of drugs containing opium. In circumstances of disease affecting the inner part of the ear, where the immunity of the body is affected is also the cause for deafness. But in the majority of such cases, doctors are unable to trace the cause that leads to this idiopathic sudden loss of theability to hear. In these instances, oral steroids are prescribed that offer relief and help patients overcome this unexplained deafness. However, if the patient suffers from weakened bones or is a long term diabetic, steroids are inadvisable which is why the doctor injects the medication directly into the ear’s tympanic membrane so that the rest of the body is negligibly affected.

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• Unearthing of the reason behind the hearing loss:

The cause behind the sudden deafness should be found out and appropriate medical care should be provided. Although in about tent o fifteen cases, the people suddenly affected by the hearing loss the cause is unidentifiable. However, some of the primary reasons for the sudden hearing loss are infectious diseases, trauma that could have happened due to a head injury, Cogan’s syndrome and other such autoimmune diseases, blood circulation issues in the body, Ototoxic drugs that affect the sensory cells present in the inner part of the ear, neurologic diseases, a tumor such as acoustic neuroma present in the nerve that links the ear to the brain, along with disorders such as Meniere’s disease. Viral disease is one of the causes of this ear condition. Migraines are another reason behind the sudden loss of hearing ability through vascular mechanisms just as leaking of the cerebrospinal fluid can be equally held responsible for the termination of hearing in most patients. Another occurrence of this impairment is the bilateral hearing loss or a loss of hearing in both the ears due to a combination of problems within the inner middle or outer ears, which can be treated with surgery. Out of these probable causes for deafness, the reason should be determined and proper measures should be taken.

• How is it diagnosed?

Generally the deafness in most patients is due to ear wax impactions. It is generally probed into by looking into the ear canal. A hearing test called ‘pure tone audiometry’ is employed by the otolaryngologist or a doctor of the Ears, Nose, Throat or better known as an ENT in order to determine whether the sudden hearing loss has occurred due to the sound not reaching the inner ear or whether the ear is unable to process the sound that reaches it due to a deficit. The other reliable tests that are applied in the process of analysis of the disease are hemoglobin electrophoresis, electrolytes test, the usage of comprehensive metabolic screen, CT scan of the temporal bone and the Lyme test.

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• How is it treated?
The sudden hearing loss should be addressed without delay as the chances of it leading to complete deafness is a lot. Corticosteroids is the most common treatment in cases of the reason behind the deafness being unknown. Usually prescribed in the form of a pill, steroids are also directly injected into the middle ear from where they make their way to the inner ear. For patients with the inability to take oral steroids, intratympanic corticosteroid therapy is an option for medical care of the hearing deficiency. If a more specific cause behind the impairment of hearing is determined, then a more targeted medicine is given. Antibiotics therefore are prescribed if an infection leads to the sudden hearing loss. Recovery is possible if the issue is addressed within a few weeks of the appearance of the problem. The chances of the patient of getting back to the former condition of full hearing capability is indeed difficult for those with severe loss of hearing ability especially when the condition is accompanied by vertigo. A younger patient will stand the chance for faster and better recovery than an old person undergoing the hearing loss treatment.

The sudden deafness can be a very traumatic experience and can lead to shock and aggravates with time if it is ignored over a prolonged period of time. Be it viral infections such as a respiratory infection, a variety of tumors in the ear canal, a trauma in the head due to head injury, drugs and chronic usage of painkillers, variety of immunological disorders, disruption of blood flow to the ear due to vascular disorders, abnormalities in development or idiopathic disorders, the cause for the sudden hearing loss should be determined after careful medical scrutiny and be immediately addressed with the applicable medical care before the condition profoundly exaggerates.

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