Sudden Hearing Loss is a Medical Emergency – important article in Healthy Hearing by Joy Victory on Sudden Hearing Loss in One Ear.
If you or a loved one has suddenly developed hearing loss, see your doctor right away. While often downplayed as not serious, any new or sudden hearing loss should be taken seriously by you and your healthcare providers. Why? The sooner you get a thorough audiological workup, the better your chances are for a full recovery.
Sudden hearing loss usually only affects one ear, and for those who don’t get better, permanent single-sided deafness can be the outcome. This kind of hearing loss, also known as unilateral hearing loss, presents unique problems, such as the inability to know where sounds are coming from, and something known as the “head shadow” effect. In some cases, a person will still have some hearing ability left, which can be amplified with a hearing aid.
Symptoms of sudden hearing loss
Some people notice sudden hearing loss when they wake up first thing in the morning and realize their hearing is different. Others don’t notice a difference until they hold the phone up to the affected ear or try to listen to headphones. In some cases SSHL is preceded by a very noticeable “pop,” which can be quite alarming.
Afterward, some patients report a feeling of fullness in the affected ear or a strange feeling on that side of the head, possibly accompanied by tinnitus and dizziness. This is sometimes called “aural fullness.”
Did a virus cause the sudden hearing loss?
One of the most common causes of sudden hearing loss is a viral infection of the hearing nerve. The swelling that occurs in the affected nerve causes it to become strangled in the narrow, bony canal that leads to the ear (the internal auditory canal). If it stays in that state for too long, the auditory nerve dies. That is why it is so important to seek immediate treatment—the window of time during which hearing can be saved in these cases is very narrow.
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If you or a family member is having any difficulties with hearing or hearing aids, please give us a call at 727-323-2471 and set up an appointment. We can help you.
Susan E. Terry, Au.D., F-AAA, F-NAP
Doctor of Audiology
P.S. We are here to help if you have any questions about your hearing, feel free to give us a call at 727-323-2471