Sense of hearing enables us to communicate, work, and socialize. It also gives us awareness of our surroundings and allows us to detect potential dangers. A gradual loss of hearing in both ears is a natural part of aging for many over the age of 60, however, a rapid loss of hearing in people between the ages of 40 and 50 is not natural.
Rapid hearing loss can be scary and chip away at your independence since your vestibular organ, which provides a sense of balance, is located in the ear. Hearing loss is never more painful than when it occurs suddenly or in a matter of a few days, which is what happens with idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
What is Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSNHL) is defined as a sudden, unexplained hearing loss of 30 decibels or more either at once or in a span of a few days. Also known as sudden deafness, it usually occurs in just one ear, and is usually preceded by a loud popping sound. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is a medical emergency.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is often more pronounced upon waking up in the morning and when trying to use the affected ear during a phone call. It is also accompanied by dizziness, balance issues, and tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Often, people who have sudden sensorineural hearing loss put off seeing a doctor thinking it is due to allergies, sinusitis, or other common conditions and will go away on its own. It’s important to know that sudden hearing loss treated early has better outcomes.
Screening and Diagnosing Hearing Loss
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss often occurs in just one ear and is diagnosed by a series of tests. Hearing and balance tests are painless tests that are usually accompanied by a physical exam. Common hearing and balance tests may include the following:
- Whisper test
- Tuning fork test
- Pure-Tone & Warbled-Tone Audiometry, Bone Conduction Audiometry
- Bone Conduction Audiometry
- Speech Reception Threshold (SRT)
- Speech Discrimination
- Impedance Audiometry & Tympanometry
- Electronystagmography (ENG)
What to Do If You Notice Hearing Loss
If your hearing is not as sharp as it used to be or if you experienced sudden hearing loss, see a doctor immediately. An ear, nose, and throat surgeon (ENT) or an otolaryngologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of ear and hearing, nose and sinus, and throat conditions. Half of the people who have sudden sensorineural hearing loss recover their hearing in a few weeks with the help of an ENT.
Georgetown ENT Surgeon
At Georgetown ENT in Georgetown, Texas, Dr. Scott W. Franklin and audiologist Abeda Mueed will work together to diagnose your condition and determine the cause of it using a comprehensive hearing and balance test. They will follow a diagnosis with a highly customized treatment plan for you. The entire medical team and staff at Georgetown ENT are committed to the recovery of your hearing. For the best results, please see us the moment you start noticing changes in your hearing.
To schedule a consultation, call (512) 869-0604 or request an appointment online now.