Unexpected hearing loss: what to do if there is a risk of sudden hearing loss?

Unexpected hearing loss: what to do if there is a risk of sudden hearing loss?

Not everyone affected has to see a doctor immediately if they have hearing loss
Every sound just sounded normal, but suddenly there is a dull feeling in the ear and you only hear as if through cotton wool. In this case there is usually a so-called “sudden hearing loss”, which can range from a relatively harmless hearing disorder to complete deafness. Stress is being discussed as a possible trigger, but the exact mechanism of its development has not yet been clarified. Quiet often helps with a sudden hearing loss, so those affected should first relax.

Suddenly, those affected can no longer hear properly
"It suddenly felt as if my ear was blocked with cotton wool" - sentences like these many patients describe their symptoms before the doctor diagnoses a so-called "sudden hearing loss". This usually occurs completely abruptly and without any recognizable cause and usually affects only one side. In addition to the furry feeling in the ear, the hearing loss is characterized by limited hearing. This can be relatively slight, but in severe cases it can also mean complete hearing loss. However, there is no earache. "It often happens right after getting up in the morning, often even in stressful, stressful situations," explains Prof. Dr. Gerhard Hesse in conversation with the news agency "dpa". Hesse is chief physician of the ear and hearing institute in Bad Arolsen in Hesse and spokesman for the advisory board of the German Tinnitus League.

Experts discuss stress as a possible trigger
The reasons for this as well as the specific mechanisms of origin have not yet been fully clarified. There is no scientific evidence that stress is actually the cause of sudden hearing loss. A few years ago, the hearing disorder, also known as "ear infarction", was still considered an emergency, which is why hearing loss patients should immediately go to an ENT doctor. However, from today's perspective, such a hasty approach is no longer necessary and often does not make sense, because hectic pace can quickly lead to panic in the person concerned.

See a doctor only if you have complete hearing loss
However, if the ear is completely deaf, a doctor should definitely be consulted immediately, emphasizes Dr. Hesse. With only slight hearing impairments, on the other hand, you can wait 24 to 48 hours, says the spokesman for the German Association of Otolaryngologists, Michael Deeg. Because, as the expert explained to “dpa”, hearing improves again for most of those affected during this time. "And even if that is not the case, there is no risk of worsening and there is no risk of missing treatment opportunities," adds Deeg, who works as a specialist in ear, nose and throat medicine in Freiburg. However, it is important to keep calm during this time. Relaxation, going to bed early and avoiding alcohol and nicotine are the right measures to enable the body to relax.

If this does not improve the situation, a visit to the ear, nose and throat doctor is essential. He can first check whether any wax build-up is responsible for the symptoms. In addition, infections such as a middle ear infection or a blast trauma as a result of loud gunfire or similar. that cause discomfort. If no other reason can be found, doctors speak of a sudden hearing loss (“exclusion diagnosis”). According to Dr. 40 to 100 out of 100,000 people Hesse affected in the year.

Treatment is usually with cortisone
The starting point of the ear infarction is the inner ear or the cochlea, in which the so-called "hair cells" are located. These have the task of converting sound waves into electrical impulses, which are then passed on from the nerves to the brain and decoded, and ultimately ensure that we can hear. In the case of a sudden hearing loss, these sensitive cells only work to a limited extent in a certain frequency range. The consequences can be very different for those affected. Some experience a dull, wadding feeling in the auricle, while others experience e.g. Buzzing in the ears (tinnitus). In many cases, however, the symptoms resolve spontaneously in the first weeks after the sudden hearing loss. Since the cause of the hearing impairment is still unknown, there are no medications. If treatment is necessary, this is usually done with high-dose cortisone, e.g. injected directly into the ear. "The active ingredient regulates the fluid balance in the inner ear and has an anti-inflammatory effect," explains Hesse. This therapy is usually well tolerated for a few days, the costs would normally be borne by the health insurance companies.

Hearing loss persists in up to 20 percent
However, infusions to improve blood flow are no longer used today. "The scientific review has shown that they have no significant effect and can even lead to undesirable side effects," explains Deeg. However, it is not always possible to completely restore hearing with the usual therapy options. According to Hesse, 10 to 20 percent of hearing loss persists. If the attenuation reaches 25 to 30 decibels, it is perceived as annoying in everyday life, explains Eberhard Schmidt, hearing aid acoustician in Regensburg further to the news agency. Then it becomes more difficult to follow conversations in larger groups or to recognize the origin of a sound. "Sometimes hearing is more sensitive to loud noises after a sudden hearing loss," the delegate of the federal guild of hearing care professionals continues. In this case, a hearing aid can help, which brings the missing frequencies to the eardrum and alleviates unpleasant tinnitus.

Lavender can do little miracles when stressed
If stress is the main cause of sudden hearing loss, it is important to learn how to deal with external stresses in addition to treatment, especially in the event of permanent complaints. There are many ways to reduce stress, such as Sport or relaxation techniques such as autogenic training, yoga or progressive muscle relaxation. At the same time, alternative medicine offers a range of natural "anti-stress agents" such as Schuessler salts, homeopathic globules or aromatherapy with lavender. (No)

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