Sudden deafness is defined as rapid hearing loss, occurring within 72 hours, usually in only one ear. It can be caused by a problem with the inner ear, the auditory nerve or the brain (central nervous system). It is often idiopathic (no known cause), but can have a vascular, inflammatory, metabolic, traumatic, viral or other origin.
Along with hearing loss, symptoms can include tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), aural fullness (a plugged-ear sensation) and sometimes dizziness. It should be noted that sudden deafness does not always occur along with an upper respiratory tract infection.
When sudden deafness is suspected, it is crucial to quickly consult an audiologist, ideally within three days of the onset of symptoms. If the diagnosis is positive, an emergency ENT referral will be given to receive treatment, which involves taking corticosteroids.
The sooner sudden deafness is managed, the better the chances of recovery. If the hearing loss should persist, in whole or in part, wearing a hearing aid is indicated.
If you have any questions about your hearing or that of a loved one, our hearing health professionals will be happy to answer them.
BY ÉLIANE BOURDAGES, Audiologist, Polyclinique de l’Oreille