Hearing loss can occur in various ways, and one particular type that can be quite alarming is sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL). This condition, also known as sudden deafness, affects thousands of people every year. In this blog post, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options for SSNHL, encouraging individuals to seek timely help and regain their hearing.
What is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL)?
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is characterised by an abrupt and unexplained loss of hearing in one or both ears. Unlike gradual hearing loss, which may develop over time, SSNHL occurs suddenly and without any apparent trigger. It is typically classified as a medical emergency, requiring immediate attention from a hearing care professional.
Causes of SSNHL
The exact causes of sudden sensorineural hearing loss are not always clear. However, researchers have identified several potential factors that may contribute to its onset. These include viral infections, autoimmune disorders, circulatory problems, trauma, certain medications, and inner ear disorders. It is important to note that SSNHL can affect individuals of any age, although it is more commonly observed in people aged 30 to 60.
Recognising the Symptoms
SSNHL is often accompanied by noticeable symptoms that should not be ignored. If you or someone you know experiences any of the following, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention:
- Sudden and significant hearing loss in one or both ears.
- Difficulty understanding speech or other sounds.
- A sensation of fullness or pressure in the affected ear(s).
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
- Dizziness or problems with balance.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Upon suspecting SSNHL, it is essential to consult a hearing care professional promptly. They will conduct a thorough evaluation, which may include a physical examination, hearing tests, and possibly imaging scans. The purpose of these assessments is to determine the underlying cause and extent of the hearing loss.
While the treatment approach may vary depending on individual cases, some common options for SSNHL include:
- Corticosteroid therapy: Medications like prednisone or dexamethasone are often prescribed to reduce inflammation and promote healing in the inner ear.
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT): This involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised chamber, which may improve blood flow and aid in the recovery of damaged tissues.
- Antiviral medication: If a viral infection is suspected, antiviral drugs may be prescribed to combat the infection and prevent further damage.
- Hearing aids or assistive devices: In some cases where the hearing loss is permanent, hearing aids or other assistive devices can help individuals regain their ability to communicate effectively.
Coping with SSNHL
Coming to terms with sudden sensorineural hearing loss can be emotionally challenging. It is essential to seek support from loved ones, join support groups, or consider counselling to navigate the adjustment process. Remember, while the journey may be difficult, modern advancements in hearing care offer hope for improvement and a fulfilling life with hearing loss.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is a concerning condition that demands immediate attention. By recognising the symptoms, seeking prompt medical help, and exploring the available treatment options, individuals affected by SSNHL can maximise their chances of regaining their hearing or effectively managing the condition.
At Hear4U, our team of dedicated hearing care professionals is committed to helping you on your journey to better hearing. If you suspect you may be experiencing any hearing problems, we encourage you to take the first step towards better hearing health by booking a free hearing test with Hear4U today. Don’t wait – your hearing is too important to delay. Contact us now and let us guide you towards a world of better hearing.