Be Prepared When Sudden Deafness Hits Home
Last year, thousands of people suddenly went deaf in one or both ears. This year, it could be you. Know what to do if you or a loved one becomes affected by sudden deafness.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss A.K.A. sudden deafness causes full or partial hearing loss in one (or rarely both) ears. This can happen all at once or over a few days. Ringing in the ears or dizziness may occur as well. Though your family doctor may not think hearing loss is a medical emergency, damage can be permanent if not treated right away.
At least 5-20 per 100,000 persons are affected. This includes people of all ages, though it is most common in 50-60 year olds, and only 1.2% are under age 9. Men and women are equally affected.
This is an emergency! If your doctor cannot get you an appointment with an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) within 48 hours, you need to go to the hospital. The chance of full hearing recovery decreases significantly from week 1 (87%) to week 2 (52%).
The cause of most cases of sudden deafness remains unknown, and many patients recover within 2 weeks without treatment. Of the cases with a known cause, the leading is infectious diseases (i.e. syphilis, Lyme disease, mumps) followed by ear disorders (i.e. Meniere’s disease, fluctuating hearing loss, otosclerosis).
If you are reading this too late and you or a loved one has permanent damage from sudden deafness, come see us. Assistive devices such as hearing aids may help you hear again.
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