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Can you suddenly go deaf?

If you are currently experiencing sudden deafness or Sudden Sensorial Hearing Loss (SSHL) in one or both ears, we recommend you immediately seek medical attention at your nearest A&E.

Sudden deafness or SSHL is a serious condition that can result in permanent hearing loss in one or both ears if left untreated. However, the good news is that when medical attention is received within 24 hours, there is a 70% chance of a complete recovery being made.

BBC newsreader Lewis Vaughan recently went public about his sudden deafness. Likewise, Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry and actor Rob Lowe are also reported to have suffered from SSHL in recent years.

Despite these high-profile cases, one barrier that still prevents many people from receiving treatment is a lack of awareness about the condition. Some patients incorrectly assume sudden deafness is related to illness or allergies – similar to losing their voice or sense of smell when suffering from a virus. Consequently, they do not seek treatment and hope their hearing will naturally return of its own accord.

If there’s one thing you can do to help your friends and family today, please share this blog article so they know the correct course of action to take if they ever experience sudden deafness or SSHL for themselves. Who knows, you might just save their hearing.

 

What are the causes of sudden deafness or Sudden Sensorial Hearing Loss (SSHL)?

The reasons for sudden deafness or SSHL aren’t always clear but research has shown a relationship with the following causes:

  • Infections
  • Inner-ear problems such as Meniere’s disease
  • Physical trauma
  • Problems with the nervous system
  • Problems with the immune system
  • Tumour or growths
  • Toxins or poisons
  • Functional problems with the cochlear
  • Babies can also be born with SSHL as a result of infections, parasites or genetic conditions that pass from mother to child
  • The risk of SSHL increase slightly with age however gender does not make a difference as instances are equally common in men and women.

 

How is sudden deafness experienced?

Some patients wake up and find their hearing is severely impaired. Others notice when they go to make a phone call. A few people even describe a popping sound followed immediately by a noticeable loss of hearing.

While the onset can happen almost instantaneously, for some people it will occur over the course of two to three days. Even at the older end of the spectrum, this is still very sudden in comparison to progressive age-related hearing difficulties which develop slowly over many years.

In the majority of cases, only one ear is affected although in some instances hearing in both ears is impaired. Some sufferers also report a feeling of fullness in the affected ear or a strange feeling on that side of the head, accompanied by Tinnitus or Vertigo.

 

What is the treatment for sudden deafness or Sudden Sensorial Hearing Loss (SSHL)?

Medical treatment for sudden deafness or SSHL usually depends on the underlying cause, however corticosteroids are commonly used to reduce inflammation and swelling and fight infection that may result in sudden deafness. Following medical treatment, patients often find their hearing returns within the first two weeks.

If hearing cannot be restored by medical treatment or the underlying problem can’t be resolved, hearing aids are often used to improve a patient’s hearing. This is where audiology clinics such as Sevenoaks Hearing play a vital role. We are experienced at treating hearing loss brought about by SSHL and take a professional and sensitive approach based on our extensive understanding of the condition.

While sudden deafness can be very distressing, there are many inspirational stories that show treatment can have positive outcomes. Returning to the case of news presenter Lewis Vaughan, who now proudly wears his hearing aids and has continued in a high-profile profession. We are delighted to see his employers have supported him on his journey too. Similarly, Halle Berry and Rob Lowe have both adopted a winning mentality towards their hearing loss and their careers haven’t suffered as a result of SSHL.

 

Can sudden deafness be prevented?

There are many possible causes and not all are easy to identify or prevent. But if you have any concerns, you may want to consider an annual hearing test. Annual screenings will allow you to monitor your hearing health and action can be quickly taken as soon as any changes occur. We can also provide an initial consultation to eliminate causes such as earwax or Glue Ear.

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