Doctors explain singer Alka Yagnik’s hearing loss

The 58-year-old also cautioned her fans 'regarding exposure to very loud music and headphones (sic)'.
Last Updated : 21 June 2024, 01:55 IST

Follow Us :


Bollywood playback singer Alka Yagnik has been diagnosed with a rare sensorineural hearing loss following a viral attack. She was unable to hear anything after she walked out of a flight a few weeks ago, she shared on Instagram on Tuesday.

The 58-year-old also cautioned her fans “regarding exposure to very loud music and headphones (sic)”.

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is a condition of the inner ear. It is caused by damage to tiny hair cells that line its cochlea, or its auditory nerve that carries sound to the brain, explains Dr Jagdish Chaturvedi, an ENT surgeon.

SNHL can set in gradually due to ageing or it can happen overnight. Sudden deafness is almost irreversible if the treatment doesn’t start within 48 or 72 hours from its onset, says Dr Deena Priya, a professor of audiology at a speech and hearing institute.

Sudden SNHL can strike anybody, even the healthy, with no apparent warning, says Dr E V Raman, consultant ENT, and head and neck surgeon, at a private hospital. “It usually affects one ear. The hearing loss happens immediately or within three days,” he adds. Sudden deafness can reduce any speech to a whisper while gradual deafness
first affects the perception of high-pitched sounds like female voices, says Dr Deena.

Loud noise, smoking, alcohol consumption, comorbidities like diabetes, autoimmune disorders like arthritis, and cancer drugs can also impair hearing suddenly. “Change in the middle ear pressure while scuba diving or flying can damage the inner ear, causing sudden but temporary deafness. If this happens repeatedly, the deafness can become permanent,” adds Dr Chaturvedi.

Sudden SNHL can also result from brain tumours exerting pressure on the auditory nerve or road accidents damaging the skull. Dr Karthik Shamanna, professor and head of the ENT department at a medical college, has seen sudden deafness in patients who travelled in air-conditioned buses or had cold drinks. “Prolonged exposure to low temperatures can compromise blood supply to the brain, leading to the damage of inner ear structures,” he explains.

Viral infections have emerged as a big risk factor since the Covid-19 pandemic. “We also see this among children with brain fever or mumps. But recovery is faster in children than in elders,”
Dr Deena says.

Visit an ENT doctor without delay. If swollen wax isn’t the cause, more tests will follow. Hearing can be recovered up to 85per cent with steroids (to decrease cellular damage), vasodilators (to increase blood flow),
anti-viral medication and Vitamin B12 in time, says Dr Shamanna.

According to Dr Chaturvedi, nearcomplete recovery is possible in case of viral attacks. But despite early intervention, some don’t show improvement, Dr Raman notes. Hearing aids and cochlear implant surgery is recommended in such cases.

Flying with a common cold or an ear infection can cause pressure fluctuations in the ear and may cause dizziness and facial pain associated with sudden or gradual deafness. “Consult a doctor before. You may be prescribed medicines or salt water nose spray, or asked to chew gum, swallow lozenges or sip water when the aircraft is descending. I suggest the ‘Toynbee maneuver’ — swallow with your mouth and nose closed and then swallow with the nose open. Do it several times. This helps equalise pressure in the ear,” explains Dr

For others: Keep your listening device at 50per cent volume or less; use ear plugs/muffs in a high-noise environment; eat dairy products, eggs, meats and seafood for Vitamin B12.

Published 21 June 2024, 01:55 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us