As I’ve wrote about, my hearing loss has been classified as Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL). To qualify for this classification a person must have had a loss of hearing of 30 decibels (dB) or more over a 72 hour period.
It’s called sensorineural because the loss occurred within the cochlea, cochlear nerve, the brain stem or the temporal lobe of the brain.
A person with this type of hearing loss usually feels a fullness in the ear involved along with the reduction in hearing. The person may also have some ringing in the ear (tinnitus). It is quite common that a person who goes to their doctor with these symptoms could be treated for fluid on the ear or an ear infection. The medications used to treat those problems, though, have no effect on treating SSHL.
SSHL is more common than most people think. It affects 5-20 per 100,000 people (up to 2 out every 100 people) and there are as nearly a half million new cases each year.
Now to the big question – what is the cause?
WE DON’T KNOW!
It is assumed (a guess at best) that the cause might be a virus or autoimmune disease.
There has been quite a bit of research about how to treat SSHL. One of the biggest challenges, though, is the fact that so few people have this develop.
For any treatment to have hope of helping reversing the hearing loss, it needs to start within 6 weeks of when the loss happens – the sooner the better, though. This may be a challenge, however, since many people might think their ear is just stopped up or may get treatment for an ear infection before a hearing test is performed.
The most common treatment used is steroids. Most patient are given steroid pills in a fairly high dose over the course of a couple of weeks. Most studies, though, haven’t found this to be very successful in reversing the hearing loss. I took oral steroids both times I experienced SSHL and had no change in my hearing either time.
An emerging treatment that is showing more and more promise is called intratympanic steroids. This means injecting a steroid solution into the middle ear with the hope that it gets into the inner ear through a process of diffusion (that sorta means it gets sucked into the inner ear).
I had this procedure – twice! (You will be able to find out more about my experience within the posts about my hearing loss history.) I will say to anyone reading this that you should strongly consider doing it, but please read my post where I discuss my experience. A person needs to be fully informed about this procedure because it is not comfortable.
There is literally tons written on the Internet about SSHL. I read about it extensively during the first two weeks following my SSHL in 2013. I want to think the Hearing Health Foundation for the information on their website that helped me write this post.