Hearing loss is the 3rd most common health problem. There are different types of hearing loss. Some can be improved with surgery while others cannot. Appropriate treatment for hearing loss depends on complete evaluation of a patient’s medical history, physical exam of the ear and audiologic testing. The Indigo ENT group works closely with skilled audiologists and hearing aid specialists to offer the best evaluation and treatment according to your type of hearing loss.
Sudden Sensorineural Hearing loss
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL), commonly known as sudden deafness, occurs as an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing—usually in one ear—either at once or over several days. It should be considered a medical emergency. Anyone who experiences SSNHL should visit a doctor immediately. Sometimes, people with SSNHL put off seeing a doctor because they think their hearing loss is due to allergies, a sinus infection, earwax plugging the ear canal, or other common conditions. However, delaying SSNHL diagnosis and treatment may decrease the effectiveness of treatment.
Nine out of ten people with SSNHL lose hearing in only one ear. SSNHL is diagnosed by conducting a hearing test. If the test shows a loss of at least 30 decibels (decibels are a measure of sound) in three connected frequencies (frequency is a measure of pitch—high to low), the hearing loss is diagnosed as SSNHL. As an example, a hearing loss of 30 decibels would make conversational speech sound more like a whisper.
Many people notice that they have SSNHL when they wake up in the morning. Others first notice it when they try to use the deafened ear, for example when going to use a phone. Still others notice a loud, alarming “pop” just before their hearing disappears. People with sudden deafness may experience dizziness, have ringing in their ear or both.
About half of people with SSNHL will recover some or all of their hearing spontaneously, usually within one to two weeks from onset. Treatment is best received within 72 hours of developing the hearing loss.