All of a sudden finding out you won the lottery or landed your dream job- exciting! Waking up one
morning to find out you’ve suddenly lost hearing in one or both of your ears- not so exciting.
Unfortunately, Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss, or SSHL, is a medical issue that can seemingly
pop out of nowhere to individuals typically between 30 and 60 years old. SSHL is a type of hearing loss
that affects approximately 8,000 adults in America every year and can present itself all at once or over
the course of a few days. 90% of the time, SSHL only affects one ear though it can potentially cause
hearing loss in both ears. This form of sudden onset hearing loss can present itself in numerous ways
including but not limited to:
● Trouble following group conversations
● Muffled or faint conversation sounds
● Vertigo
● Balance problems
● Difficulty hearing high pitch sounds (can be diagnosed by Pure Tone Audiometry)
● Tinnitus (ringing in one or both ears)

Although SSHL is a serious medical condition requiring immediate medical attention, many people
experiencing SSHL don’t seek out help for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include not
thinking it’s serious, attributing it to allergies or a cold, and the cost of seeing a doctor or specialist can
be expensive. If you do notice any of the aforementioned, get checked out as soon as possible
because after two weeks of not seeking treatment, the risk of not regaining hearing increases.
Now that you know what SSHL is and how it can affect you, let’s jump into some of the causes. Albeit
only 10% of SSHL cases have an identifiable cause, there are a variety of issues that can bring about
Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss including but not limited to
● Infections
● Head trauma
● Autoimmune diseases
● Exposure to chemotherapy or ototoxic medications (medications that are toxic to the ear)
● Blood circulation problems
● Neurological disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis
● Venom from a snake bite
● Meniere Disease (a disorder that affects the inner ear and causes vertigo and tinnitus, typically
only in one ear)

You’ve made the decision to see a hearing health professional, now what’s next? Fortunately,
diagnosing SSHL isn’t limited to one test. Your hearing health professional may recommend different
kinds of tests to diagnose your sudden hearing loss, so let’s get into them.

The first two on the list are types of auditory exams. Your doctor may decide to perform a Pure Tone
Audiometry which tests for how loud certain frequencies/pitches need to be in order to be heard. The
Pure Tone Audiometry determines how bad your hearing loss is and establishes a baseline. The other
types of auditory exams include Rinne or Weber Tests which use a tuning fork to measure both air and
bone conduction to indicate the extent of your hearing loss. Aside from auditory exams, blood work,
MRI’s and balance tests can be administered to identify how and why you are experiencing hearing
loss. Blood work can help detect damage to the inner ear as well as monitor protein levels that have an effect on hearing, while an MRI can detect potential tumors and balance tests indicate the presence of
conductive or cochlear hearing loss.

Early diagnosis of SSHL is your best chance to regain most or all of your hearing following SSHL. Much
like how there are a variety of ways to diagnose SSHL, there are a variety of ways to help treat the
effects of SSHL. The most common ways of treating SSHL include oral or intratympanic steroid
injections as a more immediate/temporary fix to decrease swelling and inflammation in the ear and
hearing aids and cochlear implants as a more permanent fix. Think you may decide on adding a
hearing aid to your daily life? Check out our blog post on choosing the best hearing aid for your

Losing your hearing all of a sudden can be scary, there’s no arguing that. Our best advice to you is to
not blow off your newfound limited hearing and to see a hearing health professional to see what options
you have to regain your hearing back. As always, our doors are always open for any concerns or
questions you have about your hearing health.

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