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 for a complimentary hearing test and consultation. If necessary, our hearing instrument specialists can offer a referral and they can go over hearing aid options.