Sudden Hearing Loss
Sudden hearing loss is a medical emergency. This condition,
which is caused by a virus infection or a small stroke of
the inner ear comes on suddenly.
Most commonly, patients state that they wake up and notice
that their ear is plugged and that they cannot hear on the
phone using that ear. Oftentimes, patients mistake
this for an ear plugging as a result of a cold or allergies.
One way to test to see if you have sudden hearing loss is to
hum. If you only hear the humming in the opposite ear, then
you may have sudden hearing loss and should immediately seek
treatment at an ear specialist's office (otologist-neurotologist). If you can hear the
humming in the ear that is plugged, then it is the routine
ear plugging from a cold or allergies, or perhaps fluid in
A hearing test is required to make the diagnosis of sudden
hearing loss. Since
acoustic neuromas occur in
3-10% of patients with sudden hearing loss, an MRI is
obtained to make sure that you don't have a an acoustic
neuroma. Sometimes, testing of the blood may be performed to
rule out certain conditions including Lyme disease, some
rare infections, or autoimmune conditions.
Treatment consists of a course of high dose steroids by
mouth. The treatment should start within the first 2 weeks
after the onset of the hearing loss. If there is no recovery
of hearing at one week, steroid treatment is given in the
ear. This procedure is done using a small needle to place
the medication behind the ear drum. The special steroid
medication (methylprednisolone) will then enter the inner
ear and improve the likelihood of hearing recovery. Dr.
Djalilian is an expert in the area of intratympanic
medication therapy for various inner ear disorders including
sudden hearing loss.
To Make an Appointment at the UC
Irvine Skull Base Center, Please call 714-456-7017
or click here
to request an appointment via the web.