If you woke up and found that you lost your right arm or you couldn’t see out of one or your eyes, most likely you would consider that a medical emergency. But there are many people who wake up in the morning with no hearing in one of their ears and think that it will simply go away – that it is not a medical emergency.
But it is a medical emergency – according to the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Audiology. It is a medical emergency because it could result in a permanent hearing loss.
“We had 14 patients with rapid or sudden hearing loss just in 2015 alone. Those who came in within one or two weeks had a more significant recovery than those who waited longer.” – William Holzhaeuser, AuD
Anyone who experiences a rapid onset of hearing loss should visit a doctor and have an audiology examination immediately. Sometimes, people with sudden hearing loss put off seeing an audiologist or a medical doctor because they think their hearing loss is due to allergies, a sinus infection, earwax plugging the ear canal, or something else. However, delaying a correct diagnosis of a sudden hearing loss and its treatment may decrease the effectiveness of treatment and result in permanent hearing loss.
Sudden hearing loss – or sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) – is defined as a rapid onset of diminished or complete hearing loss in one or both ears over a short period of time. Nine out of ten people with sudden hearing loss lose hearing in only one ear. That may be another reason some people fail to seek medical attention.
Many people notice that they have sudden hearing loss when they wake up in the morning. Others first notice it when they try to use the affected ear, such as when they use a phone. Still others notice a loud, alarming “pop” just before their hearing lessens. People with sudden hearing loss often become dizzy, have ringing in their ears (tinnitus), or both.
Studies have shown that those who have begun treatment within two weeks have the greatest chance of recovery. “We encourage you to contact your primary care physician or the audiologists at Ashland Audiology and have your hearing evaluated if you or someone you know experiences a rapid change in hearing.”