Sudden hearing loss.
Sudden hearing loss is a functional disorder of the inner ear, which usually occurs around the age of 50. Yet increasing numbers of young people are also affected by sudden hearing loss. Why is this?
Sudden hearing loss usually happens very quickly and for no apparent reason: It feels like you have cotton wool in your ear. Affected persons can’t hear properly on one side – in rare cases, even on both – or can no longer hear at all. Sometimes sudden hearing loss is associated with dizziness, and very often with ringing ears (tinnitus). The sometimes furry and dull feeling is unpleasant and unsettling.
However, sudden loss of hearing is not always an emergency. For around half of all cases, the symptoms subside by themselves within 24 hours. If this is not the case, you should consult an ENT specialist who can rule out the possibility of an inflammation or illness.
What are the causes of sudden hearing loss?
So far there is no explanation as to what exactly causes sudden hearing loss. A fairly common theory is that a bleeding disorder in the inner ear is responsible. Due to the lack of blood flow, the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear do not receive enough oxygen or nutrients and no longer fulfil their function. As a result, sounds are no longer transmitted from the ear to the brain.
There is usually no single recognisable trigger. However, a number of factors are suspected to favour sudden hearing loss:
- Menière's disease (a disease of the inner ear, which, among other things, is manifested in a spinning sensation)
- Viral infections
- High blood pressure
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Nicotine consumption
Only a perfectly adjusted and customised hearing aid can offer maximum benefits. Choosing and customising a hearing aid is an elaborate process which takes time and patience. To find the optimal hearing aid and the ideal settings, several visits to a hearing care professional are required.
Since the causes and triggers of sudden hearing loss are unclear, there are no clear recommendations for prevention. Anyone who is exposed to constant loud noises should be sure to wear hearing protection. Otherwise, similar rules apply as for avoiding cardiovascular diseases: Avoid stress wherever possible, eat healthily to avoid high blood lipid levels and move around often.
Various circulation-stimulating and anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to treat sudden hearing loss, although the effectiveness of these drugs is not scientifically proven. As stress and stressful mental situations are enabling factors, many therapists recommend relaxing more. However, if sudden hearing loss develops into permanent hardness of hearing, those affected should be treated with a hearing aid.
Particularly when tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is added to the equation, which is often the case, a hearing care professional can adapt a special combination device which not only corrects sudden hearing loss but also has a tinnitus program (noiser).
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Did you know?
To date, there is no proven effective drug treatment for sudden hearing loss.