Sudden Hearing Loss
By Connie Briscoe
Sudden hearing loss is one of the more mysterious illnesses among us when it comes to diagnosis. Even today, many cases of sudden hearing loss elude definitive diagnosis.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss refers to a loss of hearing of 30 db (decibels) or more over three adjacent frequencies, as determined by a hearing test, within a three-day period. A decibel is a measure of sound. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (National Institutes of Health), a decibel level of 30 is about half the level of normal conversation.
Often sudden deafness occurs within a matter of hours. Many people who experience sudden hearing loss notice it when they wake up in the morning. Others notice it when they try to use the telephone. The amount of hearing loss can vary, from mild to severe, and it is often accompanied by vertigo (dizziness), tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or both. It usually happens in one ear (unilateral) but can affect both ears (bilateral). In the United States, an estimated 4,000 people develop sudden hearing loss each year. It occurs equally between men and women and most often among those 30 – 60 years of age.
Sudden hearing loss is considered a medical emergency and should be evaluated as soon as possible, preferably by an ear specialist. There are many possible causes of sudden hearing loss; however, the cause often remains unknown even after an evaluation. Some possible causes are viral infections, trauma to the ear, autoimmune diseases and some drugs. Sudden hearing loss sometimes improves or stabilizes on its own or with medical treatment within a matter of days or weeks, but sometimes it does not.
A few celebrities have reported experiencing sudden hearing loss. Radio personality Rush Limbaugh reportedly had cochlear implant surgery a few years ago after experiencing sudden hearing loss. Cochlear implants are considered a good alternative if hearing loss does not improve and hearing stabilizes in the severe to profound range. Hearing aids are also an option. Rapper Foxy Brown reported experiencing sudden hearing loss while in the studio recording.
Several medical centers nationwide are participating in a five-year clinical trial of sudden hearing loss. The trial is sponsored by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). The study began in December 2004 and will compare high-dose oral steroids with intratympanic (middle-ear) injections of a special formulation of steroid medication to treat sudden hearing loss.
About the Author: Connie Briscoe is a New York Times best-selling author and former managing editor of American Annals of the Deaf, a journal on education of the deaf. She runs a website at http://www.hearinginformer.com, where you can read more about sudden hearing loss.
Permanent Link: http://www.isnare.com/?aid=31618&ca=Wellness%2C+Fitness+and+Diet
Many readers have given us feedback to say they are going to tackle their tinnitus reboot brain in a very different way as a result. Will you?