In the majority of the cases, hearing loss occurs gradually over weeks, months or years. This is how over 70% of hearing loss occurs. And in most of these cases, the hearing loss is usually caused by exposure to harmful sounds. That is sounds that exceed the prescribed limit of 80dB.
However, hearing loss can also occur suddenly, thereby causing sudden deafness. Read on to learn more about this, what causes it, and how you should handle such a case.
What is sudden deafness?
Sudden deafness refers to non-gradual hearing loss that takes place either instantly or within a span of a few hours. It is commonly referred to as sudden hearing loss (SHL). It can also be referred to as sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) because it’s a form of one of the 3 major types of hearing loss.
Despite its name, sudden deafness does not always mean a complete loss of hearing ability. SHL and SSHL are used to describe hearing loss of more than 30 decibels.
Symptoms of sudden deafness
Some of the symptoms of sudden deafness include:
- Tinnitus – ringing in the ears
- An ear-popping sound
- Ear pressure
Possible causes of sudden deafness
Sudden hearing loss can be caused by quite a number of factors. Some of the more common ones include:
- Trauma due to accidents or other physical impacts
- Loud noise
- Birth defects
- Ear wax
- Hereditary issues
How to avoid sudden deafness
There’s not much one can do to avoid sudden deafness because most of the factors causing it are not self-inflicted. However, one can avoid sporting activities or physical fights that could lead to head trauma or any other physical injury close to the ears.
One can also avoid listening or exposing themselves to very loud noises such as gunfire noise, ambulance noise, and other high-decibel sounds. If you must remain exposed to such loud noises, wear ear protection gear such as ear muffs.
One can also avoid sudden deafness by getting their ears checked regularly by an audiologist or an ENT physician. Through such tests, certain factors that cause sudden deafness such as tumors, wax buildup, and infections, can be spotted
What to do if you suffer from sudden deafness
If you think that you are suffering from sudden deafness, the first thing you ought to do is visit a doctor or an ENT physician. They will carry out hearing tests to ascertain if you are indeed suffering from sudden hearing loss. This is often done through audiometry tests.
Counseling is also often offered in such cases in order to help the patient cope with the sudden loss of hearing.
Can sudden deafness be reversed?
In many cases of sudden deafness, hearing ability resumes after a few days or a couple of weeks.
In other cases, medication and/or surgical procedures can be undertaken to reverse the hearing loss or abate it to a certain degree. This is, however, dependent on the cause of the sudden deafness. A lot of people also recover some or most of their hearing through hearing aids.
In other cases, however, the hearing loss can be permanent.
It is estimated that one out of 50,000 people around the US suffers from sudden deafness annually. And the majority of the people in this bracket are elderly persons.
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