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WHAT TO DO IF YOU EXPERIENCE SUDDEN HEARING LOSS

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

About 1 in every 5,000 adults experience sudden hearing loss in the United States, although the number is probably much higher due to the number of cases that go unreported or misdiagnosed.


SUDDEN SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS (SSHL) IS AN EMERGENCY FOR WHICH ONE MUST SEE A KNOWLEDGEABLE EAR, NOSE, AND THROAT SPECIALIST LIKE DR. KHETARPAL. FOR BEST OUTCOMES IT IS BEST TO SCHEDULE THAT APPOINTMENT WITHIN 24-48 HOURS OF THE LOSS.


Dr. Umang Khetarpal goes over the symptoms, causes, treatments, and what you can do if you experience Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL) in order to prevent permanent hearing damage.


What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

When an ear that had a normal hearing or partial hearing loss suddenly loses more hearing over a span of minutes to hours, it is called sudden hearing loss. Sudden hearing loss may be associated with ringing or buzzing in the affected ear and even vertigo or dizziness with or without a headache. Occasionally sudden hearing loss may occur with migraines. There may be an echo-type sound in the ear and the ear may feel plugged. Sometimes there is pain associated with it.


Types of Sudden Hearing Loss

There are two types of sudden hearing loss, one called conductive, related to a problem in the ear canal or middle ear, and the other sensorineural or inner-ear related.


Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss may be related to the ear canal being plugged with wax or liquid or pus behind the eardrum or from ear injury.


Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is thought to be related to a viral infection of the inner ear or its nerve although other ideas such as occlusion of blood vessels to the inner ear are also considered possible. It can occur in meningitis or rarely from bleeding into a tumor of the hearing nerve or swelling of the tumor. Rarely leukemia can involve the ear causing sudden hearing loss.


What Is The Most Common Presentation of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

The most frequent presentation of sudden sensorineural hearing loss occurs is usually a sudden sensorineural loss in one ear, without any other symptoms except for tinnitus and pain. Some have vertigo or dizziness.


How is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss Diagnosed?

An office exam and a hearing test called audiometry are necessary to diagnose this condition. This is an emergency and any delay in presentation or treatment can result in losing the opportunity to possibly restore or improve hearing