Sudden hearing loss is an acute, sudden deterioration in hearing which usually affects only one ear. Sudden hearing loss can cause complete deafness in the affected ear. The cause of sudden hearing loss is unknown. In many cases, sudden hearing loss improves spontaneously within hours or days. Nevertheless, those affected should immediately seek medical advice for every case of sudden hearing loss. The earlier that treatment begins, the greater the chances of recovery are.
Sudden hearing loss can occur at any age. However, around three quarters of those affected are older than 40. Sudden hearing loss occurs for no apparent reason. All that is known is that it is a sensorineural disorder. The problem thus lies in the inner ear. Many factors are believed to trigger sudden hearing loss. They include circulatory disorders in the inner ear, infections, diseases of the cervical spine, autoimmune diseases as well as stress or mentally stressful situations.
Sudden hearing loss often initially manifests in the form of tinnitus, which then results in a sudden loss or reduction in hearing. Those affected often complain of pressure in the ear, dizziness and sensitivity to noise. Sudden hearing loss does not cause ear pain.
Sudden hearing loss is diagnosed on the basis of the characteristic symptoms and after ruling out other causes. Different examinations such as hearing tests, blood tests and ear tests are carried out to this end. Depending on the situation, computed tomography or an MRI examination may also be carried out.
A circulatory disorder in the inner ear is deemed to be the most likely cause of sudden hearing loss. The first step in the treatment is thus to improve the patient’s circulation. This is usually done with an infusion of medication that stimulates the circulation. The earlier that such treatment begins, the greater the chances of recovery are. Anti-inflammatory medications such as cortisone are also used. The medical treatment is supported with relaxation procedures to reduce any stress or psychological strain caused by the condition.