Sudden hearing loss can be alarming and unexpected. It often only affects one ear and can cause an immediate or rapid loss of hearing.
This article explores what hearing loss is, its possible causes, and treatment.
People who experience sudden hearing loss may first notice the condition when they attempt to use the ear that has lost hearing. This may be while talking on the phone or upon waking in the morning. Some people
Sudden hearing loss
A person with hearing loss may also experience:
There are a variety of potential causes of sudden hearing loss in one ear.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), which people also refer to as sudden deafness, typically affects one ear. SSHL involves a rapid, unexplained loss of hearing.
It most often affects people in their late
- head trauma
- autoimmune disease
- a problem with blood circulation
- a neurological disorder, such as multiple sclerosis (MS)
- an inner ear disorder, such as Ménière’s disease
- exposure to certain medications, such as drugs that treat cancer
Schwann cells cover almost all the nerves in the body. When they multiply too fast around the eighth cranial nerve, a person may develop an acoustic neuroma. The tumor can prevent the nerves responsible for balance and hearing from functioning correctly, which can cause:
Although acoustic neuromas typically grow slowly and are benign, a person can experience symptoms suddenly. The tumor may also pose risks to health besides hearing loss.
Traumatic brain or head injury
A traumatic brain injury or head injury can
Some diseases may cause hearing loss. These include:
- Autoimmune inner ear disease: This is an inflammatory condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the inner ear.
- Otosclerosis: This is a middle ear disease that affects the small bones of the middle ear. The bones cannot move, which can result in conductive hearing loss.
- Ménière’s disease: This is an inner ear disease that experts do not know the exact cause of. Experts characterize it as an abnormal amount of fluid in the inner ear. It can cause sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus.
Ear infection or buildup of earwax
Types of infection include otitis externa and otitis media with effusion. Otitis externa involves inflammation in the outer ear. Otitis media with effusion is an infection that can cause fluid to build up behind the eardrum.
A buildup of earwax can cause impaction, which can block a person’s ear and cause loss of hearing on one side.
Loud noise on one side
A loud noise such, as a siren or explosion close to the ear,
Treatment of sudden hearing loss in one ear varies depending on the cause of the hearing loss.
Because doctors often do not know the cause of SSHL, they
Treatment for this tumor
If a person has a brain injury, a doctor
A doctor will treat each disease that can cause hearing loss differently.
- Autoimmune inner ear disease: Doctors
typically treatthis with corticosteroids and immunosuppressive therapy.
- Otosclerosis: Doctors
may recommendmonitoring the condition, wearing hearing aids, fluoride supplementation, and in some cases, surgery.
- Ménière’s disease: There is no cure for this disease, so treatment typically focuses on easing symptoms. Treatment
may includemedications for dizziness, dietary changes, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Earwax or infection
There are many potential causes of sudden hearing loss in one ear. Some causes may indicate a medical emergency, such as a traumatic brain injury. It is important that a person contacts a doctor if they experience sudden hearing loss.
Other causes of sudden unilateral hearing loss include a buildup of earwax, infection, or exposure to loud noise.
The treatment for sudden hearing loss in one ear will depend on the cause. Treatment can range from monitoring the condition to surgery.