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Sudden Hearing Loss (SSHL)

Sudden Hearing Loss

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Sudden Hearing Loss

Also known as SSHL (the extra ‘S’ stands for Sensorineural), Sudden Hearing Loss a condition characterised by a rapid onset of significant hearing loss in one or both ears. This sudden loss of hearing can be distressing and alarming for individuals experiencing it. it can be immediate or over a period of a few days. In this article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and available treatments for SSHL.

Causes of SSHL

The exact cause is often unknown, but several factors can contribute to its occurrence. These include:

  1. Viral Infections: Viral infections, such as herpes or influenza, are believed to be one of the leading causes. The infection can damage the delicate structures of the inner ear, resulting in hearing loss.

  2. Vascular Issues: Blood circulation problems, such as a compromised blood supply to the inner ear, can lead to sudden hearing loss. Conditions like hypertension, atherosclerosis, or blood clot formation can interfere with the blood flow to the cochlea, affecting hearing function.

  3. Autoimmune Diseases: Certain autoimmune disorders, such as autoimmune inner ear disease, can cause inflammation and damage to the inner ear, resulting in sudden hearing loss.

  4. Ototoxic Medications: Some medications, such as certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, or high-dose aspirin, have the potential to damage the sensory cells of the inner ear.

  5. Sometimes it may be caused by a conductive loss, often due to build up of earwax. You can easily have this removed in one of our appointments.
Symptoms of SSHL

The main symptom of SSHL is a rapid and significant drop in your hearing, typically occurring over a period of 72 hours or less. Other associated symptoms may include:

  1. Tinnitus: Many individuals with SSHL experience ringing, buzzing, or other phantom sounds in the affected ear.

  2. Fullness or Pressure: Some people may feel a sense of fullness or pressure in the affected ear.

  3. Dizziness or Vertigo: In certain cases, individuals may experience dizziness or a spinning sensation alongside sudden hearing loss.

Treatment for SSHL

If you suspect you are experiencing these symptoms, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. Early intervention can improve the chances of successful treatment. Here are some treatment options commonly employed for SSHL:

  1. Corticosteroids: Oral or intravenous corticosteroids are often prescribed to reduce inflammation in the inner ear and restore hearing function. Prompt administration of corticosteroids has shown promising results in many cases.

  2. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised chamber. This therapy aims to increase the oxygen supply to the damaged inner ear and promote healing.

  3. Medication Adjustments: If the sudden hearing loss is caused by ototoxic medications, your healthcare provider may recommend discontinuing or adjusting the dosage of the medication.

  4. Hearing Aids or Assistive Devices: In cases where the hearing loss persists or cannot be fully restored, hearing aids or assistive listening devices can help individuals manage their communication needs and improve their overall hearing experience.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of treatment varies from person to person. Prompt evaluation and intervention by an audiologist or ear, nose, and throat specialist are crucial for determining the best course of action.

Sudden Hearing Loss

SSHL can be a distressing experience, but with early intervention and appropriate treatment, the chances of recovering or managing the condition can improve. If you or someone you know is experiencing this, get in touch.

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Concerned about your hearing?

Want some more information before seeking help? No problem.

You can see some independent info on the subject from the NHS website here.

Alternatively, just give us a call for a quick chat on 01429 233 091.