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20 April 2017 at 4:59PM

What is sudden hearing loss?

Marie-Josée Paul
In: Helping relationship

As its name implies, sudden hearing loss is the fast and sudden loss of hearing. It takes place over a period ranging from a few seconds to three days and involves hearing damage in the order of 30 decibels. This condition touches men as much as it does women and, in rare cases, children.


Do you have these symptoms?

You may feel as though your ear is blocked. In most cases, only one ear is affected (unilateral hearing loss) and the person experiences tinnitus. You may therefore hear a whistling or buzzing sound in the affected ear. Also, 30 to 40% of those affected also experience dizziness or unsteadiness.


What are the causes?

It’s difficult to determine the causes of sudden hearing loss. In fact, in 70% of cases, the cause remains unknown. The most common causes include: viral infections (otitis, labyrinthitis, etc.), cerumen impaction, vascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, acoustic trauma, traumatic injuries, and tumours, among others.


What is the prognosis?

Several factors come into play when it comes to recovering sudden hearing loss. Keep in mind that the faster you seek medical attention, the better your chances of healing will be. The healing process depends on things such as the severity of the sudden hearing loss, the loss as measured by the audiogram, related symptoms, age, diabetes and ototoxic medication.


How to deal with a sudden hearing loss?

Many are those who experience a total or partial recovery of hearing loss, while living with persistent tinnitus. The hearing loss may, however, be permanent and require the use of a hearing aid. There is also a chance of sudden hearing improvements! Either way, sudden hearing loss must be assessed immediately by an otorhinolaryngologist, ideally within 3 days, in order to heighten the chances of recovery.

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