Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL) is often described as a sudden deafness and is a medical emergency. Typically in 90% of cases, this will only affect 1 ear. The hearing in the affected ear/s will diminish rapidly, either all at once or over 2-3 days.
Patients often report waking up with no hearing in one ear whilst some experience a noise or loud pop and then the hearing in the affected ear is gone. Accompanying symptoms also include feeling dizzy and/or tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ear
What Causes Sudden Hearing Loss?
SSHL has been known to be the result of a viral infection. However, there are many other reasons why SSHL occurs. Ototoxic medication, and blast and pressure trauma from diving for example, can all cause sudden deafness. Neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis can also result in SSHL.
How Serious is it?
As soon as you experience sudden hearing loss, the clock is ticking for treatment to be effective. Treatment that is administered within the first 72-hours of the onset of symptoms has the best chance of being successful. Of patients treated within this small window, 50% will regain their hearing, 50% will not. Once 2-3 weeks have passed, any resulting hearing loss will most likely be permanent.
How Can We Help?
If you experience sudden hearing loss, contact us immediately. Please do not assume it is just wax. Our experienced team are trained to identify a hearing loss which needs urgent treatment. During your appointment with us we will examine your ears and conduct hearing testing to establish if a hearing loss is there. We can also compare your results with your previous tests if you have been to us before.
If a hearing loss is identified, and it requires urgent care, we will assist you with an onward referral.
How is Sudden Hearing Loss Treated?
As SSHL is relatively rare, GPs may not always be aware of the 72-hour window for treatment, therefore we will assist you in providing a detailed onward referral to get you the right treatment fast.
Once you are seen by a doctor or ENT, you will likely be prescribed corticosteroids either to be taken orally or in some cases, administered via an ‘intratympanic’ injection. Further investigations may include blood tests and/or an MRI scan.
If you have experienced sudden hearing loss, get in touch with us straight away. Early action has the best chance of regaining your hearing.