Sudden temporary hearing loss can be very upsetting and confusing issue to experience. The good news is it can be remedied if diagnosed and treated early. Here, we will break down everything you need to know about temporary or sudden hearing loss from causes to treatment options and most importantly, what you can do to minimize your risk of experiencing it.
What is sudden temporary hearing loss?
Sudden hearing loss, sometimes called ‘sudden deafness,’ happens when you experience an abrupt loss of hearing. It can occur all at once or over the course of several days and is often unilateral affecting only one ear. In fact, 90 percent of those who experience this kind of hearing loss only experience symptoms in one ear1.
Sudden hearing loss occurs when sound is not able to reach the inner ear from the middle ear (e.g., there’s something blocking the path) or sound does reach the inner ear, but it’s unable to continue on to the brain due to damage to the inner ear or neural pathways.
Symptoms of sudden hearing loss may include:
- Muffled sound in ear
- Difficulty following along in conversations
- Trouble hearing amid background noise
- Difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds
- Dizziness or balance issues
- Tinnitus(ringing in the ear)
Causes of sudden temporary hearing loss
Sudden hearing loss may occur for many reasons and it can be difficult to pinpoint the root cause. In fact, only 10 to 15 percent of diagnosed cases can be traced back to a specific cause.2 But some of the most common sources of sudden hearing loss include:
- Obstruction (ear wax)
- Exposure to loud noise
- Head trauma or injury
- Ear infections
Treatment of sudden temporary hearing loss
While you may be tempted to wait it out, it’s important to see your doctor right away if you’re experiencing sudden or temporary hearing loss. Early treatment is the best chance at a fast and full recovery. Your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical exam. He or she may refer you to an ENT—a doctor who specializes in ears, nose, and throat. Be sure to disclose any medications you’re currently taking, as well as any diagnosed medical conditions you already have.
The doctor may perform certain tests to assess your hearing at different sound volumes, as well as check for any damage to your middle ear and eardrum. He or she may also order blood tests or an MRI to get detailed images of the ear and brain to check for any cysts, tumors, or other abnormalities.
Your doctor may recommend medication, or surgery depending on the cause and severity of the loss. They may also have you stop or switch any of your current medications if one you’re taking is harmful to ears.
Quick tips to prevent sudden temporary hearing loss
Here are three tips to reduce your risk of sudden temporary hearing loss:
- Protect your ears from loud noise
- Turn down the volume, walk away from loud sounds and wear protective gear when around harmful levels of noise.
- Boost your immune system
- To help your body avoid and fight off infections, load up your grocery cart with fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich food. Vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, B6 and zinc are known to strengthen the immune system.
- Talk to your doctor about your medications
- Check with your doctor about any new or current medications you’re taking, and whether they are known to be ototoxic. Before treatment, the doctor can get a baseline measurement of your hearing, which can be used to monitor any hearing changes and explore drug therapy changes down the road if need be.
Are you concerned you or a loved one may be struggling with hearing loss? Contact a hearing professional today.