I have sudden hearing loss. What should I do?

Sudden hearing loss is a condition where a person’s hearing deteriorates suddenly in one or both ears. This may be accompanied by ringing in the ear or dizziness.

There are many causes for sudden hearing loss and the appropriate treatment will depend on the cause, which may include infections, Meniere’s disease, loud noise, trauma, pressure changes, or a tumor. Some cases of sudden hearing loss will resolve spontaneously, but others may cause permanent or complete loss of hearing in the affected ear.

If you have sudden hearing loss, you should see an otologist, neurotologist, or ENT doctor as soon as possible. Primary care providers, nurse practitioners, and emergency room doctors are not trained to adequately diagnose the cause for sudden hearing loss – you must see an ear specialist.

The treatment for sudden hearing loss is almost always steroids, taken by mouth, usually for fourteen days. The sooner the steroids are begun, the better the outcome in most cases. An evaluation for sudden hearing loss will include an exam, a hearing test, and most likely an MRI of the brain. Other treatments may include intratympanic perfusion, a procedure in which steroids are injected into the middle ear space.

The specialists at the Shea Ear Clinic are specifically trained to work up and manage sudden hearing loss. If you have sudden hearing loss, you are strongly encouraged to make an appointment at the Shea Ear Clinic at your earliest possible convenience.


Paul F. Shea, MD, Shea Ear Clinic – Sudden Hearing loss

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