What Should I Do?
In cases where a sudden drop in hearing function occurs, a medical evaluation should be performed as soon as possible. Some of these cases are due to a sudden sensorineural (inner ear) hearing loss. It is unclear what causes this condition but a viral or inflammatory process in the inner ear may be a possibility.
What is the Evaluation Process?
Patients with sudden hearing loss undergo a full ear nose and throat evaluation in addition to testing such as audiogram. Further studies such as MRI or CT may be ordered in certain cases, as there is a small chance that the hearing loss may be due to a tumor.
Most patients with sudden hearing loss recover some or all of their hearing over several weeks. There are some patients who will not recover well without treatment, and since treatment rendered late is often ineffective, early treatment is offered to most patients. The standard treatment includes oral steroid and/or steroid injected directly to the ear (intratympanic steroid injection). For patients whose hearing does recover completely, a hearing aid is the most effective treatment. Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ear) can also occur as a result. This condition can also be treated with hearing aids or other options. Some patients have hearing loss that is so severe on one side that even hearing aids are not useful. These patients may benefit from BAHA or CROS.