Sudden Hearing Loss
Sudden hearing loss is a perplexing condition. Sudden hearing loss is defined as a greater than 30 dB hearing reduction, over at least three contiguous frequencies, occurring over 72 hours or less. Sudden hearing loss can affect people differently, but it is usually unilateral (only one ear), and is often accompanied by tinnitus (ringing in the ear) or vertigo (dizziness).
Although some hold that this disease is generally idiopathic (of unknown cause), sudden hearing loss may be due to a number of known causes of hearing loss including bacterial labyrinthitis, meningitis, encephalitis, multiple sclerosis, syphilis, autoimmune diseases such as Cogan’s syndrome, acoustic neuroma, ototoxic drugs, otitic barotrauma, temporal bone fracture, concussion, acoustic trauma, fat embolism, leukemia, Meniere’s disease, and metastatic carcinoma. A search for potentially treatable causes of sudden hearing loss must be undertaken including an audiological evaluation.
Viral disease appears to be the basis for 60% of all cases of sudden SHL. Steroids like prednisone are used to treat this type of sudden loss. Prognosis for sudden hearing loss for the majority of cases is good with treatment. If you ever experience sudden hearing loss you should be seen immediately as symptoms of sudden hearing loss can lead to significant loss of hearing or deafness if not treated.