Sudden hearing loss.
Sudden hearing loss usually occurs around age 50. More young people are also being affected by this problem. What is it?
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 associated with sudden hearing loss can be very unpleasant and unsettling.
Sudden hearing loss is not always an emergency. About half of all cases resolve by themselves within 24 hours. If your symptoms persist for more than a day, you should consult an ENT specialist who can check your ears for illness or inflammation.
What causes sudden hearing loss?
Not even hearing experts are exactly sure what causes sudden hearing loss. Some believe an inner ear bleeding disorder leads to the hearing problem. Due to poor blood flow, the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear do not get enough oxygen and nutrients. 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 to possibly cause sudden hearing loss:
- Menière's disease (an inner ear disease which also causes a spinning sensation)
- Viral infections
- Arteriosclerosis (“clogged arteries”)
- High blood pressure
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Nicotine consumption
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 protective ear covers. Otherwise, follow the same advice used to prevent cardiovascular diseases: avoid stress, eat healthy, don’t smoke, get plenty of exercise and have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked by a physician.
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. Types and causes of hearing loss.
Various circulation-stimulating and anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to treat sudden hearing loss, although the effectiveness of these drugs is not scientifically proven. As psychological stress may make things worse, many therapists recommend relaxation techniques. If sudden hearing loss develops into permanent hardness of hearing, you should be treated with a hearing aid.
If you also have tinnitus (ringing in the ears), a hearing care professional can adapt a special combination device which corrects hearing loss and reduces the symptoms of tinnitus.
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