Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL) can also be termed sudden deafness and is a problem where a person experiences a quick loss of hearing. This problem can occur instantaneously or over the maximum period of 3 days to be classified as sudden sensorineural hearing loss. When someone experiences a hearing loss problem, it’s important to seek proper medical attention and get examined.
When visiting the doctor, a hearing test will be given that can detect if a at least 30 decibels of sound is lost in three adjoined frequencies. If this loss of hearing is detected, then a patient is classified to have SSHL. This sound loss is usually equated to half the volume of a normal conversation. Usually this hearing loss will only affect one ear, as 90% of people who have sudden sensorineural hearing loss experience the loss of sound only in one ear.
Tinnitus And SSHL
This hearing loss can be detected by the individual with SSHL in many different ways, but the most common are when they try to isolate sound to the ear experiencing the condition and when there is a loud popping sound in the ear before they lose their hearing. sudden sensorineural hearing loss can also be associated with tinnitus where dizziness or ringing in the ears is present.
Tinnitus is classified as the perception of sound within the ear when there is actually no sound present in the external environment. Around four thousand cases are identified each year in the United States, but many times sudden sensorineural hearing loss will not be identified, as many people suffering from this will recover within a 2-week period.
Causes of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss
It is very unlikely that the exact cause of sudden sensorineural hearing loss in a patient will be identified since the sudden deafness will usually be linked to something in a patient’s medical history. Less than 15 percent of patients get the exact cause of their SSHL identified. Some of the possible causes for sudden deafness include:
- Circulatory disorders
- Neurologic causes
- Meniere’s disease
- Abnormal tissue development
- Immunologic diseases
- Ototoxic drugs
Treatment of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
The first approach to treating ear problems are to see a doctor and get the proper diagnosis for the problem and if there is a cause of the sudden deafness that needs to be addressed to recover a patient’s hearing. Doctors have yet to identify the best method of treatment for sudden sensorineural hearing loss, but there are many treatments available if one does not resolve the sudden deafness.
The main reason that one specific treatment has not been chosen as the best solution for sudden sensorineural hearing loss is due to the numerous possible causes of the hearing problem that usually have to be treated first before the hearing will be fixed. Sometimes the solution will be as simple as changing medications the patient is currently taking or by taking antibiotics.
Steroids are the most common treatment for sudden sensorineural hearing loss. The steroids usually are used for many various problems in the body, but for the ear, they can reduce swelling and increase the ability of the body to fight illnesses. This will also help strengthen the immune system of the patient, which is vital in elderly patients.
Research has also shown that blood flow and air in the ear can be important for preventing SSHL as it can be caused by a lack of oxygen to the inner ear. For some patients an inhalation of carbogen, a mixture of carbon dioxide and oxygen, can help improve the air and blood flow inside the ear. This treatment does, however, take longer to treat sudden sensorineural hearing loss.