Sudden Sensori-Neural Hearing Loss (SSNHL)

If you experience a sudden hearing loss it is imperative that you have an urgent hearing assessment to determine the type and degree of the hearing loss. Please call the clinic at 01-2937930 or email the clinic at info@beaconaudiology.com or use the website contact page and the Audiologists at Beacon Audiology will carry out an urgent hearing assessment and make the necessary referral to ENT if indicated.

The audiologists at Beacon Audiology have become concerned at the significant increase in Sudden Sensori-Neural Hearing Loss (SSNHL) that we are seeing in our diagnostic audiology clinic. In fact, we have seen a 300-400% increase in these cases in 2020 compared to previous years. 

All the patients we have seen with SSNHL had not been formally diagnosed with COVID-19. They were asymptomatic however developed a SSNHL overnight or over the course of a couple of days.

Sudden Sensori-Neural Hearing Loss (SSNHL), commonly known as sudden deafness is an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing either all at once or over a few days. SSNHL affects the inner ear or the sensory organ. Sudden hearing loss frequently affects only one ear. Sometimes, people with SSNHL put off seeing a doctor because they think their hearing loss is due to allergies, a sinus infection, earwax plugging the ear canal, or other common conditions. However, you should consider sudden deafness symptoms a medical emergency and visit a doctor immediately as well as an urgent appointment with an audiologist to assess the type and degree of hearing loss. Some people with SSNHL recover some or all their hearing spontaneously, usually within one to two weeks from onset, delaying SSHL diagnosis and treatment (when warranted) can decrease treatment effectiveness.

It is possible in some cases to reverse the sensori-neural hearing loss when an urgent treatment regime is followed within 24-72 hours of developing a sudden hearing loss. The administration of oral corticosteroids providing there are no contra-indications and immediate referral to an ENT Consultant for trans tympanic corticosteroids is the recommended treatment pathway, to reverse the sensori-neural hearing loss.

SSNHL can occur between one and six people per 5,000 every year, but the actual number of new SSNHL cases each year could be much higher because SSNHL often goes undiagnosed. SSNHL can happen to people at any age, but most often affects adults in their late 40s and early 50s.

The most common causes for SSNHL are infections, head trauma, autoimmune diseases, blood circulation problems, neurological diseases, and disorders of the inner ear.

If you experience a sudden hearing loss in one ear, please consult your GP or ENT specialist within 24 hours of noticing the hearing loss and have an urgent hearing assessment to determine the nature of the hearing loss (to rule out a conductive component to the hearing loss or to confirm a sensori-neural component to the hearing loss. The chances of reversing the hearing loss are greater when the treatment is administered 24-72 hours after noticing the hearing loss.

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