What is sudden hearing loss?.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is an unexplained rapid loss of hearing that occurs within a short period, typically within 72 hours. It can affect one or both ears and requires immediate medical attention. If left untreated, sudden hearing loss (SSHL) can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and communication abilities.
The cause of SSHL is often unknown. It can be linked to viral infections, autoimmune disorders, circulatory problems, trauma, or certain medications.
Symptoms include sudden/rapid loss of hearing, feeling of fullness in the affected ear, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and dizziness or vertigo.
A comprehensive assessment by an Audiologist or ENT specialist is crucial to diagnose SSHL. This involves a thorough medical history review, physical examination via otoscopy, hearing assessment, tympanometry to assess middle ear function, and additional imaging tests such as MRI to rule out underlying causes.
Early intervention is vital for SSHL.
Corticosteroids are often the first treatment option. They are administered orally, intravenously, or through injections into the innter ear.
Other interventions such as antiviral medications, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or hearing aids can be recommended depending on specific cases.
Rehabilitation and counselling may be necessary to address communication difficulties and adjust to hearing loss.