Unexpected changes to our health should always be monitored carefully.  Sudden hearing loss is a serious issue and should be treated like any other urgent health care concern.

What is sudden hearing loss?

Sudden hearing loss is exactly what it sounds like, an unexpected and sudden loss of hearing, in one or both ears, that develops either immediately or over a 24-hour period. While sudden hearing loss can resolve itself within a couple of weeks in some cases, the risk of permanent hearing loss exists. Steroids may be used to support the recovery of your hearing, but if no improvement is seen, your hearing loss may be permanent.

Seeking treatment immediately can dramatically increase your chance of fully recovering your hearing, and about 85% of people who seek immediate treatment will get some of their hearing back. For this reason, immediate medical attention is necessary.

What should I do if I experience sudden hearing loss?

See your doctor immediately if you notice you suddenly have trouble hearing out of one or both ears, no matter if it’s a partial or full loss of hearing. Sudden hearing loss is considered a medical emergency and you should be seen right away.

Seeking medical assistance within 72 hours of the onset of sudden hearing loss greatly improves the chances that your hearing will recover. Avoiding permanent hearing loss is always the first priority.

Why is seeking help in the first 72 hours so important?

In the first 72 hours, a family doctor may be able to administer a treatment (this could be prednisone or dexamethasone or similar), that can help sudden hearing loss. All doctors can administer a similar treatment if they assess the situation and consider it the appropriate path. After this initial window, results can drop dramatically, so quick action is important!

If you aren’t able to get help at your family physician’s office, come see us at one of our locations. We’ll work with our hearing care providers to ensure you are seen as quickly as possible. 

What causes sudden hearing loss?

Sudden hearing loss can have many causes. Common causes of hearing loss include genetics, damage to some portion of the inner ear, middle ear, or outer ear, and loud noise. Hearing health can also be affected by health conditions and some medications so only a visit to the doctor will help unravel what’s happening. 

When should I see a hearing health care professional?

Once you see your family doctor, you may find that you have more questions about hearing loss or protecting your hearing. You can visit any of our clinics to discuss your hearing health, have a hearing test, or ask about treatment if your hearing problems persist.

There are different types of hearing loss so once you’ve had immediate medical attention, we can help you learn more about healthy hearing and ensuring you have support on the path ahead.

How can I help a family member experiencing sudden hearing loss?

It’s important to pay close attention to our hearing, just like we do the rest of our health care! You can encourage any family member to seek immediate medical attention if they experience sudden hearing loss, and support them in seeking emergency care and followup.


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