Sudden Changes in Hearing?
Solvera Health Article for Healthy Cells (June 2022)
By Dr. Jennifer Meyer – Doctor of Audiology – Solvera Health
Sudden Changes in Hearing? That’s a Cause for Concern!
Have you ever had a sudden feeling of fullness in one ear? Maybe a constant ringing sensation that seemingly came out of nowhere and won’t go away?
You may be experiencing one of the few medical emergencies involving your hearing, known as a sudden sensorineural hearing loss. This occurs when the sensory organs in the inner ear malfunction, so let’s break down what that means.
With sensorineural hearing loss, the individual typically will experience a sudden, rapid loss of hearing in one ear. Because this sensation typically only affects one ear, individuals may be unaware of the hearing loss until they do common things such as attempting to talk on the telephone with the affected ear. Often an individual may notice a sudden change in their hearing but assume it’s due to common factors such as allergies or a sinus infection.
So, what do you do if this happens?
As soon as you can, contact a professionally trained audiologist to schedule a comprehensive hearing evaluation to determine the root cause of your hearing loss. When the hearing loss comes on suddenly, it is important that a hearing evaluation take place within 24-48 hours of symptom onset for the best treatment outcomes.
At your appointment, the audiologist will make a diagnosis of the hearing loss. The hearing loss may be identified as a conductive hearing loss, which is when the outer or middle ear system has an issue. However, the hearing loss may also be a sudden sensorineural hearing loss, meaning the hearing loss is affecting the inner ear system and needs immediate treatment.
If the hearing loss is sensorineural in nature, the audiologist will refer you to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist) to further review the findings of the hearing evaluation. Additionally, the individual may receive corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, decrease swelling, and aid the body in fighting off any illness that may be present. Treatment needs to be administered as immediately as possible after symptom onset, as there is only a 2-to-4-week window of time for treatment before the hearing loss could become permanent.
The individual will receive weekly hearing tests to monitor the effectiveness of the prescribed treatment from the ear, nose, and throat specialist. Treatment may be adjusted based on the improvement, or lack of improvement seen on the weekly hearing evaluations.
Though sudden changes in your hearing can be a scary sensation to deal with, seeking immediate treatment is necessary and can prevent permanent hearing damage! GONE are the days of putting your hearing healthcare on the back burner because you hope the hearing loss will resolve when allergy season is over…NOW are the days of putting your hearing health first!
Jennifer Meyer is a Doctor of Audiology at Solvera Health located on the corner of University and War Memorial is Peoria. You can request an appointment with her online or call at 309-886-9172.