Did you know that sudden sensorineural hearing losses (SSHL) affect 27 out of 100,000 people? In fact, it is even more prevalent in the elderly and in men. What is SSHL?
SSHL, otherwise known as sudden deafness, is an unexplained, quick loss of hearing that may occur all at once or over a period of several days. It usually only affects one ear, where the inner ear function experiences a rapid decline.
Individuals may notice the hearing loss upon waking up in the morning, where they not only experience reduced hearing levels in their affected ear, but potentially fullness and tinnitus in that ear as well. Unfortunately, there is no identifiable cause to the SSHL in the majority of those affected. For a small minority, the SSHL may be traced back to conditions like infections, colds/virus, head trauma, autoimmune disease or certain disorders like Meniere’s disease.
If you or a loved one notice a sudden decline in hearing, make sure to take immediate action. Go to the closest emergency department to see an ear-nose-throat specialist (ENT doctor) who can prescribe steroid medications for the sudden hearing loss. The first 72 hours after the onset of SSHL is most important – medication intervention during this small window of time will increase the chances of restoring the hearing. If treatment is delayed, the likelihood of a full recovery becomes smaller.