Sudden hearing loss

Sudden hearing loss usually occurs in people around the age of 50.
More young people are also being affected by this problem.

What is sudden hearing loss?

Sudden hearing loss may be a complete or partial loss of hearing for no obvious reason. You might feel like you have cotton wool in your ear. Typically, symptoms only appear in one ear, but both ears can be affected. You might even lose your hearing completely. Other symptoms can include dizziness or ringing ears (tinnitus).

The sometimes fuzzy or dull feeling happens when hair cells in the inner ear do not get enough oxygen.  If you experience sudden hearing loss, then you should immediately see a GP.

What causes sudden hearing loss?

The exact cause of sudden hearing loss is not known. The cells no longer function properly, and as a result, sounds are not transmitted from the ear to the brain.

A number of factors are suspected of potentially triggering sudden hearing loss. These include:


Menière's disease

(an inner ear disease which also causes a spinning sensation)


Viral infections





(clogged arteries)


High blood pressure


High cholesterol


Heart disease



Did you know?

About 800 million people worldwide are affected by hearing problems, and this number is rising. Many people suffer unnecessarily as hearing loss may be treatable. Read about types and causes of hearing loss.

How can I prevent sudden hearing loss?

Since the causes and triggers of sudden hearing loss are unclear, there are no specific recommendations for prevention. However, if you are exposed to constant loud noises, you should wear ear protection.

Otherwise, follow the same advice used to prevent cardiovascular diseases: avoid stress, eat well, don’t smoke, get plenty of exercise and have your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly checked.

What should I do if I experience sudden hearing loss?

If you experience sudden hearing loss, you should seek urgent medical attention.

If you develop a sudden onset of tinnitus, go to a doctor and also seek an urgent hearing test.

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