Is a sudden hearing loss possible?

Is a sudden hearing loss possible?

A sudden hearing loss, as the name implies, is not always sudden and can happen over a span of days because there is something wrong with the sensory organs of the inner ear, writes Krishnakumar G


Has it ever happened that everything around you seems to be on mute? The person in front of you speaks to you in the highest tone but yet it sounds like a whisper to you? Such a situation might sound intimidating, and to some extent, some might even brush off the same saying such things don’t happen to them. But yes, this situation of unexplained, rapid loss of hearing is indisputably present. It is termed as sudden hearing loss/sudden deafness.

A sudden hearing loss, as the name implies, is not always sudden and can happen over a span of days. During this time, hearing gets muffled or becomes faint. It can occur in one or both ears, usually accompanied by a ringing sound called tinnitus. It mainly happens because there is something wrong with the inner ear.

What is it like?

A person may lose all the hearing at once or he may take a few days to realise. In general, the condition involves loss of hearing that happens over 72 hours or less.

People often discover their hearing loss upon waking up in the morning or sometimes when they are using their phone. In some situations, people hear a loud pop just before their hearing perishes. They may also experience a few of the following symptoms: a feeling of fullness in the ear, dizziness, or a ringing sound in their ears. Sudden hearing loss can be of low or high frequency and may also affect one’s ability to orate. Major risk factors for sudden hearing loss may include autoimmune diseases such as lupus or Cogan syndrome, or iron deficiency.

Genesis of sudden hearing loss

Barotrauma: There are high chances a person can experience sudden deafness if he/she has gone through any traumatic situations, head injuries or damage to the eardrum through external factors.

Physical symptoms: A person may also experience vestibular symptoms such as vertigo, imbalance, or motion sickness.

Ototoxic medication: Viral infections, over-dosage of medications might also be the reason for hearing loss.

Nerve compression: Any neurological disorders can also cause hearing loss. Notably, in many cases, the cause for sudden hearing loss cannot be identified and are known as Idiopathic sudden hearing loss. Sudden hearing loss should be taken seriously and treated with proper medical aid. When you experience anything unusual, it is best to visit an ENT.