For most, hearing loss is a condition that comes on gradually over a long period of time. But in some cases, hearing loss can occur with little or no warning. This type of hearing loss is known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL).
What Is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss, or SSHL for short, is defined as a reduction of 30 dB or greater over three contiguous frequencies, occurring over a period of 72 hours or less.
Ninety percent of cases of SSHL result in single-sided hearing loss, which is also typically accompanied by dizziness or tinnitus.
What Causes Sudden Hearing Loss?
There are more than 100 possible causes of sudden hearing loss. These include:
- Infectious diseases
- Head trauma
- Abnormal tissue growth
- Circulatory problems
- Neurologic disorders
- Toxic causes
- Immunologic diseases
- Inner ear problems such as Meniere’s disease and ototoxic medications
Your Tucson audiologist confirms that having the following conditions can put you at risk of developing sudden hearing loss:
- A recent head injury
- Ear infection
- Exposure to loud noise
- A sudden change in pressure
- Starting a new medication
What Are the Symptoms of Sudden Hearing Loss?
Symptoms that often precede or accompany sudden deafness include:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Fullness in the ear
- A sudden loud “pop” in the ear, similar to what you’d experience with a change in pressure
- Muffled hearing upon awakening or when trying to use the telephone
Treatment varies and will depend upon the cause (if known). Steroids, which reduce inflammation and swelling and aid the body in fighting illness, are the most common treatment method for sudden deafness.
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your Tucson audiologist immediately. Seeking medical attention as soon as possible offers the best chance for a full recovery. Do not delay – your hearing depends upon it.