Sudden hearing loss
Sudden hearing loss is a phenomenon that raises a number of questions. In many cases, it’s difficult to determine the exact cause. It occurs suddenly and often without any warning signs.
Sudden hearing loss symptoms
Sudden hearing loss is characterized by a decrease in hearing of over 30 dB over a maximum period of three days. Usually the hearing loss is unilateral, which means it only affects one ear. In a number of cases, the hearing loss is accompanied by tinnitus (ringing) in the same ear. Some patients also experience vertigo and/or dizziness.
Sudden hearing loss causes
It’s not easy to determine the causes of sudden hearing loss.
Initially, the investigation will look at both psychological and physical factors. The most common causes are:
• Viral infections: labyrinthitis, otitis, meningitis;
• Impacted cerumen;
• Vascular disorders: thrombosis or embolism;
• Idiopathic disorders: Ménière’s disease;
• Autoimmune diseases: polyarthritis, lupus, etc.;
• Acute acoustic trauma: detonation, explosion;
• Barotrauma: underwater diving, altitude;
• Traumatic injuries: blow to the ear, head trauma;
• Tumors: benign or malignant.
Sudden hearing loss treatment
Generally, the prognosis is positive, although it varies depending on the cause of the hearing loss and on how early treatment is sought. In many cases, hearing is completely recovered and healing occurs spontaneously.
For example, if the decrease in hearing is caused by acute otitis, then the appropriate medication will be prescribed and the problem solved. If hearing loss is caused by a problem with the inner ear, immediate care will increase the chances of recovery. That’s why it’s imperative that you consult an audiologist or an otorhinolaryngologist (ORL) if you notice a decrease in hearing, be it partial or complete, that occurs from one day to the next.