Imagine if you were to wake up one morning and suddenly felt so dizzy, that you fell over and realized you couldn’t stand up. Then you notice that you’ve lost all hearing in one of your ears.
These are symptoms of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL), or sudden deafness. It is an unexplained or rapid form of hearing loss, that is not the result of “noise trauma” - like a loud explosion that occurs right by your ear.
SSNHL inflames the inner ear, and typically only affects one ear. In some cases, SSNHL may also produce signs of vertigo and tinnitus.
Statistics on SSNHL
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-NHS), approximately 66,000 Americans experience SSNHL each year.
It can occur at any age, but SSNHL is generally diagnosed in adults between their late 40s to early 50s.
This can be a frightening experience for patients. There’s confusion at the sudden inability to hear, but then the symptoms cause them to believe that they are having a life-threatening emergency, like a stroke.
What to do if you experience sudden hearing loss
If you abruptly have difficulty hearing out of one ear, do not just assume it is clogged due to allergies, or a respiratory infection. Do not assume that it will just get better without any intervention.
About half of those who have SSNHL will eventually recover some of their hearing in the affected ear within a week or two.
Early diagnosis and treatment will help improve the odds. Always see your primary care physician within 24 to 48 hours.
Your doctor will begin by ensuring that there is no physical explanation for your sudden hearing loss (Earwax obstructing the ear canal, fluid in the ear, or a punctured eardrum. An examination of other considerations for possible causes may include trauma to the head, exposure to particular chemotherapy drugs, or neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis.) For approximately 90 percent of patients, doctors will not be able to narrow down the exact cause.
Some research has connected it to metabolic syndromes (a group of ailments, including high blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, in addition to a larger than average waistline)
Get tested by multiple specialists
If your physical exam shows no clear reason for your sudden hearing loss, you can visit us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free pure-tone test. This is a test that is conducted by our hearing instrument specialist where you listen for a beeping noise while wearing headphones and signaling when you hear the tone. If the test concludes that you have lost at least 30 decibels of hearing in one ear during three consecutive frequencies, you may have SSNHL. You might be advised to speak with your doctor about treatment options. If your hearing does not improve within three months, you may be fitted for hearing aids.
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 new hearing aid fittings, repairs and re-fittings. We ask that you please wait in your car, while wearing your mask, and place your hearing aids in a clean zip lock bag. We will come to your car to get them. If you are having any problems with your hearing aids, or need supplies for your hearing aids, please call us before visiting one of our offices.