Imagine waking up to hearing only feeble sounds or complete deafness.
Sudden hearing loss is a medical emergency. It is a condition that requires professional help immediately.
Sudden hearing loss or Sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) occurs mostly between the ages of 30 to 60 years. Moreover, almost 50% of people suffer from unilateral SSHL, which means only a single ear hearing loss.
You can recover from SSHL if you identify the problem in time and seek professional help. Never think of putting the checkup off when you experience the first few symptoms. When ignored or improperly treated, about 15% of people suffer from worse hearing loss.
However, the good news is that with technological advancement, you can get hearing aids and cochlear implants to help you hear the sounds more clearly and respond effectively.
Do you get repeated ear infections? Is it inherited? You need to take greater care of your ears and know the symptoms and complications of SSHL. Read on to find out.
What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
Sudden deafness or SSHL depends upon the duration, severity, frequency spectrum and audiometric standard of the loss. Whether it’s an abrupt hearing loss or fast progressive loss, it is considered a sudden hearing loss.
Our usual conversation is of 60 decibels and a whisper is of 30 decibels. When there is a loss of 30 decibels, normal speech can sound like a whisper. Zero decibel means complete silence. Losing 30 decibels in 3 connected frequencies in one or both ear is SSHL.
Usually, when people start to hear muffled, faint and low-frequency sounds, they perceive it as the earwax blockage, an outcome of a sinus infection, or allergies. Yet, taking it lightly can lead to complete hearing loss as the process can take up several days. Seeking prompt medical treatment can save your hearing.
Symptoms of SSHL
You may either recognize hearing loss right after waking up. Otherwise, you will identify it after wearing headphones on the affected ear. The initial symptoms can be quite puzzling as sounds can become distorted, lost, blended up or even magnified. Sometimes, the hearing loss is preceded by a high-frequency popping sound in the ear. Moreover, you may also experience:
- Difficulty focusing during a group conversation
- Muffled and blended conversations
- Difficulty hearing with background noise
- Inability to listen to high-frequency sound
- Lack of balance
- Tinnitus—hearing buzzing or ringing sounds in the ear
Causes of SSHL
SSHL occurs when the cochlea or the nerve pathways of the inner ear and brain are damaged. Although specific causes of unilateral SSHL are unknown, there are some of the possible causes:
- Head injury
- Prolonged and repeated exposure to loud noise
- Multiple sclerosis
- Meniere disease, responsible for an inner ear disorder
- Immune system disease
- Malformed inner ear
In children, SSHL can happen due to:
- Genetic makeup
- Genetic infectious diseases such as syphilis, rubella, or herpes
- Low baby weight at birth
When Should You Get Your Child Hearing Tested?
Children having a family history of ear infections and weak immune system can have mild to sudden hearing loss. It can happen due to ototoxic medications. It’s difficult to identify early signs of SSHL, especially if it’s in one ear. You can test your child’s hearing by noticing if they:
- Can hear louder sounds
- Can hear you in a crowd or with background noise
- Try to form words
- Have frequent ear infections and difficulty balancing themselves
How to Get a Proper Diagnosis of SSHL?
For an accurate diagnosis, you should share your medical history especially related to ear problems with the doctor to get their opinion. Ensure to share any OTC medications you are taking or any medical condition you have.
During hearing consultation, the doctor would measure vibrations using a tuning fork. An audiologist will perform a hearing or audiometry test using headphones. Different sounds of different frequencies are played and the level of hearing loss is measured.
In the case of complete hearing loss, patients can always get a hearing aid. The price of hearing aid in Malaysia is quite affordable and after all, it’s your or your loved one’s chance to listen to sounds like everyone else once again. For more information, feel free to get in touch with us.