“That’s just my bad ear – the other one hears perfectly,” they may say, considering the problem less serious than hearing loss in both ears.
Associates in Hearing Healthcare in Barrington and Marlton, New Jersey reminds you that one-sided hearing loss should be addressed immediately because of the risk of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL).
WHAT IS SSHL?
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the ear’s tiny nerves are damaged or die off, which is a permanent condition. This more gradual type of hearing loss usually worsens over time.
As the name implies, the “sudden” variety occurs very quickly, typically over the course of a few days. Sound becomes more muffled in this short timeframe, with the ear losing its ability to hear particular pitches or frequencies.
About 4,000 people are diagnosed with this sudden loss of hearing each year, with most individuals being younger than 50. Ninety percent of the time, SSHL occurs in one ear.
SSHL is often caused by exposure to loud noise, although the following factors also play a role:
- Meniere Disease
- Poor blood circulation or high blood pressure
- Weakened blood vessels, often from diabetes
- Ototoxic (those that damage hearing) drugs, such as common painkillers including ibuprofen and aspirin, opiates, chemotherapy drugs, and some antibiotics and diuretics
- Head trauma
Unlike the slower type of sensorineural hearing loss, SSHL can often be treated and reversed. Timing is of the essence, as it can become permanent if not treated within a few days. Prompt treatment results in the recovery of hearing to normal levels in about half of patients.