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Sudden Onset Hearing Loss

Sudden onset hearing loss, also referred to as sudden sensorineural hearing loss, is a sudden, noticeable change in hearing. It usually occurs in one ear  and is often accompanied by tinnitus and/or vertigo (dizziness).  It is most common in adults between 40 and 50 years old.  In up to 90% of cases, the cause is unknown but commonly believed to be the result of a viral infection.  Other known causes include vestibular schwannoma, Meniere's Disease, stroke, and head trauma.

If sudden hearing loss occurs, promptly contact an audiologist to have your hearing tested right away.  It is considered a medical emergency until the nature of the hearing loss has been determined by an audiologist or ENT. If the loss is found to be conductive after audiological testing, the urgency of the medical treatment is decreased unless a serious problem is suspected. If the nature of the sudden hearing loss is sensorineural, however, urgent care is required.

Finding medical help fast increases the chances for recovery. The most common form of treatment for sudden onset hearing loss is corticosteroids and these should be started as early as possible from onset (within the first few weeks) in order to be effective.

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