There are four main possible causes of Sudden Hearing Loss (SHL): circulatory anomalies, viral infection of the cochlea, irregularities of the cochlear membrane and autoimmune disorders. However, the most common cause is a disturbance of the cochlear blood flow.
Furthermore, causes of SHL differ depending on age. This factor should be considered, along with a careful examination of the individual’s history. For example otosclerosis, chronic suppurative ear disease, previous trauma, history of ototoxic drug treatment or genetic causes may be signs of early hearing loss. Thorough examination may confirm earwax build-up or eardrum perforation, middle ear effusion, and presence of a foreign body or acute infection.
Some of the major causes of hearing loss are associated with aging, childhood effusions, noise-induced hearing loss and infections. Hearing loss affects one in seven people in the UK. It becomes more prevalent as the senior population increases; however, some patients still seem reluctant to address their problem in time.
Possible causes of sudden hearing loss
The most common and reversible cause of sudden hearing loss is earwax (which is a common problem for elderly people, a frequent cause of hearing loss, as well as of hearing aid malfunction). The solution may be as simple as a removal of the cerumen. Prior to wax removal, the doctor must be informed about any cases of eardrum perforation or recent ear surgery. In such situations, the earwax should not be removed by applying irrigation.
Deviations in air pressure may result in malfunctioning eustachian tubes. They typically let air enter the middle ear to balance pressure. When the tubes do not work correctly, fluid can accumulate and obstruct sound vibrations from getting into the inner ear, which leads to a decreased ability to hear in the affected ear.
Some viruses cause infections in the hearing nerve or the inner ear. In cases where SHL is a result of an infection of the inner ear, early treatment with antiviral medication and steroids will enhance the chance of recovery.
Damage to bones
If the bones located in the middle ear lose contact with each other or become frozen in place, sudden hearing loss is likely to occur. This can result from certain diseases or infections.
Blood is supplied to the inner ear by a single, small artery. Sudden hearing loss will occur if the artery becomes blocked. The cause of artery blockage may be the collection of plaques. Patients with a high blood pressure and diabetics are at higher risk. It is possible for hearing to improve spontaneously, however additional treatment doubles the chances of recovery.
Age-related hearing loss happens progressively. This has no effect on the conduction of sound waves and is simply a result of aging cells.
Hearing loss of all types affects both communication and quality of life. Hearing aids have a positive effect on everyday activities and social independence. Therefore, treatment effects extend beyond communication.