Patient Portal


Practice Update

We relocated our office from Solana Beach to Carlsbad in October 2017.

Pacific ENT of San Diego County's Carlsbad * Treating Sinusitis * Sinus Surgery * Sleep *  Snoring * Sleep Apnea * Allergies * Ear Hearing & Balance * Voice * Head & Neck Surgical Care Allergist ENT Sinus Doctors of San Diego County California

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

“Sudden deafness” is a rapid loss of nerve hearing, usually in one ear, that may occur all at once of over a period of 3 days. It is considered a medical emergency and a person who experiences this condition should visit a doctor immediately.

The common criteria used to qualify for this diagnosis is a loss of at least 30 decibels in three connected frequencies. A decibel is a measure of sound loudness (volume). Frequency is a measure of how one sound is different from another and is often described as pitch.

Some people note the hearing loss upon awakening in the morning; others note difficulty with the using the telephone or understanding conversations. Still others hear a loud “pop” before experiencing the hearing loss. Noise, or tinnitus and/or dizziness or vertigo may occur as well.

90% of individuals experience this condition in one ear, 10% in both. Approximately 5-20 per 100,000 persons experience this condition (4000/year in the U.S). Men and woman are affected equally. Although this condition may occur at any age, it most frequently occurs in individuals between 30-60 years of age.

The cause for sensorineural hearing loss is often unknown (idiopathic), but in approximately 10-15% of individuals, a cause is determined during the diagnostic work-up.

Possible causes include:

  • Infection – Bacterial (meningitis, syphilis), viral (mumps, cytomegalovirus, varicella/zoster)
  • Trauma – Head injury
  • Tumor – vestibular schwannoma
  • Immunologic disease Cogan’s syndrome, Sarcoidosis, Wegener’s granulomatosis
  • Circulatory problems
  • Toxins – Aminoglycoside antibiotics, cisplatin
  • Neurologic conditions – multiple sclerosis
  • Meniere's Disease

Diagnosis:

A physical examination is performed to evaluate the ear and head and neck region. A hearing test (audiogram) must be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Other studies such as laboratory tests, MRI or CAT scans may be indicated.

Treatment:

Treatment should usually be started as soon as possible after the onset of the hearing loss. Treatment depends on the cause. Because the majority of persons with sensorineural hearing loss do not have an identifiable cause, treatment is usually with medications. There are many treatments available; however the most commonly prescribed therapy is corticosteroids. Steroids are thought to work by decreasing inflammation and swelling that may be a cause of the hearing loss. A low salt diet may also be recommended as this is a treatment for Meniere’s disease.

Other treatments such as antiviral agents, vasodilators (carbogen), and hyperbaric oxygen are occasionally recommended.

Prognosis:

Spontaneous recovery over a period of several days to a few weeks occurs in 45-65% of individuals.

A poorer chance of recovery is found when:

  • Severe hearing loss is present
  • Bilateral hearing loss
  • Vertigo is also present
  • Younger (less than 15 years) or older (greater than 65 years)

Sinus Doctors of North San Diego Orange County California Sinusitis Balloon Sinu Home
Sinus Doctors of North San Diego Orange County California Sinusitis Balloon Sinu Appointments