Hearing loss is a common health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. While some people may experience a gradual decline in their hearing ability over time, others may suddenly lose their ability to hear.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is a medical condition that can occur without warning, leaving the patient feeling overwhelmed and scared. If you or a loved one has recently experienced SSHL, it’s important to understand the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options.
SSHL is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
What is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL)?
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is an acute loss of hearing, most often in one ear. This type of hearing loss is not caused by anything in the ear canal or middle ear, but instead by damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve.
The most common cause of SSHL is unknown, but it can be attributed to an underlying infection, head trauma, viral illness, autoimmune diseases, or excessive noise exposure. It is important to recognize that SSHL requires prompt medical attention, as early diagnosis and treatment greatly increase the chances of successful recovery.
What are the Symptoms of SSHL?
The most obvious symptom of SSHL is a sudden loss of hearing, which can occur in one or both ears. The onset of hearing loss is usually rapid and can happen over hours or days.
Other symptoms can include tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo, or a feeling of fullness in the affected ear. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately to determine the cause of your hearing loss.
How is SSHL Diagnosed and Treated?
SSHL is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. If you are experiencing sudden hearing loss, your doctor will perform a series of tests to determine the cause of your condition. These tests may include a hearing test, MRI, or CT scan.
Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor may recommend treatment options such as steroids, antiviral medication, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The earlier the treatment is initiated, the greater the chances of successful recovery.
In some cases, where hearing is not fully recovered and the patient experiences fullness and tinnitus, hearing aids can be of great help, and they should be fitted as soon as it is established that hearing loss cannot be treated further with medication.
Coping with SSHL
Coping with sudden hearing loss can be overwhelming, particularly when it impacts your daily life. To reduce stress and improve your quality of life, consider seeking support from your loved ones, visit your Audiologists and seek counselling as well as hearing aids.
Modern hearing aids are now equipped with advanced signal processing with discreet designs to help you hear better. It’s important to remember that SSHL does not necessarily mean the end of your hearing ability. Many people recover their hearing with the appropriate treatment and support.
Prevention of SSHL
While SSHL cannot always be prevented, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk of developing the condition. These include protecting your ears from loud noise exposure, treating infections promptly, and avoiding head trauma.
Regular hearing check-ups are also important to detect any issues early and ensure that your hearing is at its best.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is a medical condition that requires urgent attention. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, the chances of successful recovery are greatly increased.
It is important to be aware of the symptoms of sudden hearing loss and seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of them. By taking steps to reduce your risk and protect your hearing, you can help to prevent SSHL and ensure that you maintain your hearing ability for years to come.
Remember, you are not alone in coping with SSHL, and there is support available to help you on your journey to recovery.
At Amazing Hearing, our audiologists are experienced in managing hearing loss, and assessing tinnitus through pitch and loudness matching and will be able to provide the best hearing care that you need during this moment. Please call us or WhatsApp us at 6285 3132 or reach us via email@example.com to schedule an appointment for an audiology consultation.
Sharad Govil, MSc, FAAA, MIHS,
Senior Audiologist, Amazing Hearing Group