Sudden Hearing Loss

 

While there are not often emergencies in audiology, sudden hearing loss is and should be considered an audiological emergency.

 

Sudden hearing loss is clinically defined as when a person's hearing is reduced by at least 30 decibels within a 72-hour period, according to the American Hearing Research Foundation.

 

Sudden hearing loss may be caused by several factors, including autoimmune conditions of the inner ear, head injury, circulatory disorders, disruption in blood supply to the cochlea (container for the organ of hearing), tumors that may develop on the auditory nerve, and infectious diseases. [1 ]  Often the sudden hearing loss is determined to be idiopathic in nature – meaning no cause determined. 

 

What should you do if you or someone you know experiences sudden hearing loss?

1.  Consult your physician.

2.  If your physician is unavailable, or you cannot see your physician immediately (same day), then go to your nearest Emergency Department.

3.  Request consult by an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT).

 

Treatment of sudden hearing loss may vary, and may include the use or prescription of;

Vasodilators (by improving blood supply to the cochlea), rheologic agents (by altering blood viscocity), anti-inflammatory agents (by reduction of cochlear and auditory nerve inflammation), intratympanic injection of dexamethasone or high dose prednisone,  antiviral agents (if viral invasion suspected); diuretics (under the assumption that some episodes of are secondary to cochlear endolymphatic hydrops), triiodobenzoic acid derivatives (agents thought to affect the stria vascularis and assist in maintaining the endocochlear potential), and hyperbaric oxygen (presumably by increasing oxygen tension).

 

After consult with your physician and ENT, you should have a full audiological workup. Of course you should be followed by both ENT and your audiologist periodically following sudden hearing loss.

 

1 American Hearing Research Foundation online.

 

If you have any questions or concerns, please use the comments button below to get in touch.


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