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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 the ear.


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. Drs. Djalilian and Lin are experts in the area of intratympanic medication therapy for various inner ear disorders including sudden hearing loss.

To Make an Appointment To See Drs. Djalilian or Lin, Please call 714-456-7017 or click here to request an appointment via the web.