It’s no secret that everyone’s hearing gets worse as they age. Usually, individuals have one ear that can hear better than the other. In some instances, hearing loss can abruptly occur in one ear for no reason. Under these circumstances, you may have experienced sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), or sensorineural hearing loss (SHL), which is a type of nerve deafness.
According to Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, there are approximately 66,000 instances of SHL each year in the U.S. There are probably more cases because this condition frequently goes undiagnosed.
Most people do not perceive it as being serious enough to get the help that they need. The lack of early intervention and care increases the chances of permanent hearing loss.
The exact cause of SHL is unknown, but specialists who study this phenomenon have identified some potential reasons:
People of any age can experience this problem, but it usually affects people who are in their 50s or 60s. As previously mentioned, it normally occurs in one ear. You might hear a “pop”, or feel as though there is an obstruction in your ear. Oftentimes, your hearing won’t disappear all at once. There is a steady decline that happens within several minutes or hours, like when air seeps out from a tire.
Other than hearing issues, SHL can influence your balance, which can increase your risk of falling. SHL may also be an indication of a small stroke or tumor. It tends to be overlooked because the symptoms resemble a common cold, feelings of impacted earwax, or water that’s trapped in the ear. Most people will try to treat it on their own by using a common cold or sinus medication, ear drops that swimmers use, or by simply cleaning their ears out. Mistaking it for an irritating ear that feels stuffy will cause some to leave it untreated until it’s too late.
Distinguishing the Difference between a Stuffy Ear and SHL
Here is something you can do to determine the difference between a common stuffy ear and sudden hearing loss: hum out loud to yourself. With normal hearing, sound can be heard equally by each ear. If you hum when you notice a new loss of hearing in one ear, the humming will transfer from one side to the other.
For instance, let’s say that your left ear is affected and the hum is heard louder in that ear. The loss of hearing is more likely a conductive hearing loss, and probably caused by obstruction due to a cold or earwax buildup. You may simulate this effect by humming as you cover your left ear.
If the humming sounds louder in the right ear, it indicates that the left ear with hearing loss is caused by recent nerve damage. This will need immediate medical attention.
The time period to get your SHL treated is 10 to 14 days. If it goes untreated, your hearing loss may become permanent. Get your hearing tested. You may not regain your full hearing abilities, but you may preserve the hearing abilities that you still have with proper treatment. If you have moderate to severe hearing loss, there’s only a 20% chance that you will completely recover from SHL, even when you get it treated immediately.
If you, or a loved one, are experiencing SHL lasting more than 24-hours, immediately contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation. If necessary, our hearing instrument specialists can offer a referral and they can go over hearing aid options.
Earwax, or cerumen, naturally produces to protect your outer ears. It is made up of dirt, oil, sweat, and dead skin cells.
Is your earwax dry or wet?
Producing dry earwax is common among Asians, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
Producing wet earwax is common among Africans and Caucasians.
What is the pigment of your earwax?
Old earwax is generally dark brown or black. Its color is caused by trapped bacteria and dirt. This earwax color is more common in adults.
Light brown, orange, or yellow earwax are considered healthy and normal. Children generally have softer, light-colored earwax.
Dark brown earwax, with any red, might indicate a bleeding wound.
White earwax that is flaky, is a sign that your body does not produce a chemical linked to body odor.
What produces excess earwax?
Normally, your body will know how much earwax it needs to make. Keep a healthy diet, practice proper hygiene, and move your jaw around (the same way you do when talking and chewing food). Doing this will let your ears naturally remove excess cerumen, debris, or dirt. If you routinely remove earwax, this alerts your body to generate more. Excess earwax can prevent the ability to hear, which will put you at a higher risk of ear infections and other ear or hearing health problems.
Too much stress and over-exercising can increase the amount of earwax that is produced. The same apocrine glands which create sweat, also produce earwax. Excess earwax is typically found in individuals who:
Tips to safely clean out your ears:
Although there are benefits to having earwax, too much wax obstruction can induce conductive hearing loss (when sound waves cannot travel through the inner ear, because of the earwax obstruction). If your ears feel stuffy and believe that earwax may be the cause:
If you are unable to hear out of your hearing aids and notice that there is too much earwax that is clogging up your devices, contact us at Pure Sound for deep cleaning. We will be happy to help.
Please be aware that Pure Sound services will only be available by appointment and for essential visits at this time. Essential visits include all appointments that require repairs, re-fittings, and new hearing aid fittings. Get in touch with us if you need to schedule a hearing test, or if you are having any problems with your hearing aids. If you need any supplies for your hearing aids, please contact us before your office visit.