Sudden hearing loss

What is sudden hearing loss?

Sudden hearing loss occurs when circulation in the inner ear is reduced. Sudden hearing loss is also known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss, SSHL or sudden deafness. If you experience sudden hearing loss, please contact your GP immediately.

What is sudden sensorineural hearing loss?

Those who experience sudden hearing loss have a rapid loss of hearing over the course of a short period of time, anywhere between a couple hours to a few days. People who experience sudden hearing loss find it often occurs in just one ear, and the severity of hearing loss can vary from case to case. Some people experience muffled hearing, while others end up with major, long-term hearing issues. Balance can also be greatly affected.

If you believe you are experiencing sudden hearing loss, you should contact your GP urgently. Following your appointment with your GP, you will need to book a hearing test to assess the level of loss you are experiencing and look at potential causes of the loss. Your local National Hearing Care clinic can assist you with this.

What can cause sudden hearing loss?

Sudden hearing loss occurs when the connection between the inner ear and the brain is damaged. This can happen in a variety of ways, some of which are natural.

Sudden hearing loss causes can include:

  • Injury, such as falling and hitting your head or suffering a blow to the head or ear area while playing sport
  • Loud noise, including too much exposure to high volume found at construction sites and performances as well as use of loud headphones
  • Disease, such as Meniere's disease, Lyme disease and multiple sclerosis
  • Ageing
  • Blood circulation issues that prohibit flow to the ear area
  • Nerve abnormalities, such as tumours or other issues with the nerve connecting the ear and the brain 

Unfortunately and frustratingly, many cases of sudden hearing loss are not linked to a specific cause.

What is the best treatment for sudden hearing loss?

If you experience sudden hearing loss, you should visit your GP or audiologist to check your hearing levels as soon as possible. They will rule out other potential hearing infections and diseases and perform a pure tone audiometry test. Only then can an appropriate medical referral be made. The longer you wait, the more likely it becomes that the symptoms of sudden hearing loss become permanent.  

Upon diagnosis, these experts can prescribe appropriate medication. The use of hearing aids can also bring relief to those with longer-lasting, more severe issues resulting from sudden hearing loss. 

If you have questions about your hearing health contact your local clinic for a free hearing check. Contact your local National Hearing Care clinic for advice.

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