January 5th 2011 -
A sudden loss of hearing (Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss, or SSNHL) can be defined as a loss great than 30 dB in three contiguous frequencies that occurs over a period of less than three days. It is commonly noticed upon awakening, but it can also develop rapidly over a period of hours or days. Fortunately, spontaneous recovery occurs in 30-70 percent of the cases, usually within the first two weeks, but the condition should always be assessed by a physician or an emergency room. The causes of SSNHL vary widely, but assessment and treatment can only be determined by a hearing heath specialist. Physicians are finding that once they have ruled out life threatening causes, the condition may succumb to a short course of corticosteroids, antiviral agents, diuretics, and/or low-salt diets. Research shows that steroids have many effects in the inner ear, including suppression of an immune response and changes in circulation, but whether such effects are beneficial remains unclear. In the absence of definitive evidence much research needs to be concluded about pathogens before evidence-based treatment can be deemed as protocol.