Can You Hear Me? 8 Sudden Hearing Loss Causes and Problems
Sudden hearing loss, also known as sudden deafness, is a condition in which one loses their hearing over a short period. Although this type of hearing loss is typically experienced on one ear, there are some rare instances where both ears are affected. The various causes of sudden hearing loss include:
1. Viral Infections
Some people may experience sudden hearing loss due to infections caused by viruses, which is one of the most common sudden hearing loss causes. These viruses affect the cochlear, and the blood vessels found in the ear and consequently interfere with a person’s hearing.
Statistics show that at least one in every four patients complains of an upper respiratory infection within a month before they suddenly lose their hearing. The most common viruses linked to sudden hearing loss include measles, rubella, meningitis, syphilis, AIDS, and mumps.
2. Head Trauma
Traumatic brain/head injury may result in loss of hearing. One is also likely to experience dizziness and tinnitus. For example, if a person falls, any sudden, violent injury to the head could result in the damage of the auditory (cochlear) pathway. Injuries could range from a mild concussion to severe ones that could result in sudden hearing loss.
As much as some of these injuries can be treated and cured, others such as ruptured eardrums, damage to small bones in the middle ear, or damage to the tissues and membranes of the inner ear, are permanent.
Among the most common tumours linked to hearing loss is the acoustic neuroma, also known as vestibular schwannoma. It gradually grows on the vestibular nerve, which is responsible for balance and hearing.
When the tumour exerts pressure on the nerve, you experience a ringing sound in your ear, loss of balance, and you eventually lose your hearing. If left untreated, the tumour may press against the brain to the extent that it limits vital functions.
4. Drugs and Insecticides
Some drugs may have severe side effects that could lead to hearing loss. Various ototoxic drugs are still prescribed by doctors and clinical officers despite their risky side effects. Examples of ototoxic drugs that could lead to hearing loss include gentamicin, streptomycin, tobramycin and a few other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In some cases, the effects of these ototoxic drugs are reversible, while in others, the damage is permanent.
5. Loud Noises
Research shows that a good number of actors and actresses have experienced sudden hearing loss. This is due to their exposure to loud noises such as explosives, gunshots or jet engines during the making of a film. Some sports and careers such as motorcycling and carpentry, respectively, may also make you susceptible to sudden hearing loss.
Another recreational activity that could result in hearing loss is listening to loud music. While you may not be able to entirely avoid exposure to loud noises, it helps to know the potential sources of harmful noises so you can avoid them and save your hearing.
Presbycusis is a common condition that causes gradual hearing loss as one gets older. In the US, statistics show that one in every three people in the age bracket of 65 to 74 has lost their hearing. The loss of hearing is usually gradual; hence it might be hard for a person to realize they have actually lost some ability to hear.
The most common hearing loss causes are related to age include a change in the middle ear, inner ear, or along the ear to the brain pathways. Scientists have not yet come up with ways to prevent age-related hearing loss.
7. Wax Blockage
The wax in your ears plays a crucial role in protecting it from dust, foreign particles and other microorganisms. However, when the glands in your ears make more wax than necessary, and then you accidentally push the wax deeper as you clean the ear, you could end up with blockage in your ears and temporarily disable your hearing. The treatment of a wax related hearing loss can be done at home. However, if the problem persists, seek medical advice.
8. Middle Ear Infections
Something as common as the flu can cause an ear infection, especially among small children. As the body tries to fight these infections, it creates a buildup of fluids that exert pressure on the parts of the ear that are used for hearing. If the pressure is intense, it may cause the eardrum to rupture. However, once the infection clears, the ear will likely repair itself.
Sudden hearing loss can be caused by several conditions. While some of these may be inevitable, you can protect your ear by keeping off some causes such as loud noises and maintaining proper ear hygiene. Most importantly, visit your doctor as soon as you start to notice a decrease in your hearing ability. Early detection and treatment of sudden hearing loss may save you from becoming deaf.