man with acute hearing loss

A Simple Guide to Understanding Acuting Hearing Loss

What is Acute Hearing Loss? 

If you ever experienced your hearing going muffled and dull without warning, that is acute hearing loss. It affects one ear, but can affect both ears, and it can vary in severity. Some people might experience acute hearing loss so mild that they don’t notice, while others may experience complete deafness. It’s also worth nothing that there is usually no pain associated with this type of hearing loss

Acute hearing loss is a sensorineural hearing loss type, meaning there is damage to sensory cells in the inner ear (cochlea), which causes the hearing loss. Anyone can be affected by this hearing loss type. It can also be considered sudden sensorineural hearing loss due to its unexpected and immediate effects.


Symptoms of Acute Hearing Loss

Some symptoms can typically include a sensation of “blocked” ears, the sensation of cotton stuffed in your ears, pressure around the auricle or on the ears, and tinnitus. Other possible symptoms include: 

  • Reduced hearing or complete deafness
  • Dizziness in severe cases
  • Hearing “double” sounds
  • Difficulty locating the origin of sound
  • Voices and sounds sound different or muffled

Causes of Acute Hearing Loss

Specific causes for this type of hearing loss is still unclear. However, experts have several theories and factors that can result in acute hearing loss. One of the biggest suspected causes are circulatory disorders in the small blood vessels in the inner ear. This could result in the lack of blood flow to the sensory cells, which causes the sensorineural hearing loss. 

Another possible cause are ear infections, which can cause inflamed tissues around the sensory organs and damage the ear’s ability to process sound. Another contributing factor is stress. Stress can increase the risk of acute hearing loss, and patients often noticed that they were under extreme stress right before they experience hearing loss.

To summarize possible causes, here is a list: 

  • Stress
  • Viral infections or reactivations (e.g., herpes or chicken pox)
  • Arteriosclerosis and the resulting circulatory disorders
  • Metabolic diseases such as diabetes or high cholesterol levels
  • Rupture of the round or oval windows
  • Cervical spine disorders (e.g., whiplash)
  • Elevated aggregation of thrombosis (blood clotting)
  • Blockage (thrombosis) of the inner ear vessel
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Prior acute otitis media (middle ear infection)

Treatment of Acute Hearing Loss

If you’re experiencing this type of hearing loss, it’s important that you see a hearing professional promptly to diagnose and address the issue. There is no one ideal treatment for every case, so it’s important to work with your hearing professional to create the best plan for you.

Possible treatment plans include: 

  • Cortisone: This anti-inflammatory is administered as a solution or in tablet form and can treat swelling in the inner ear.
  • Intratympanic Therapy: Cortisone can also be used in a targeted way by the administration of a higher concentration of active ingredient directly at the site of the complaint. Using a very fine needle, the doctor can spray cortisone directly into the middle ear.
  • Infusions: Treatment with substances such as hydroxyethyl starch (HES) has also proven to be successful. It improves blood flow in the inner ear.

Prevention of Acute Hearing Loss

It is beneficial to lead a healthy lifestyle to reduce risk of circulatory disorders and stress levels. It is also important to protect your hearing from loud noise exposure, so make sure that you are doing what you can to minimize risks for hearing loss such as wearing ear plugs at loud events and keeping volume levels at a safe level. Here are some of AudioCardio’s recommended high-fidelity earplugs for loud events. 

AudioCardio is a technology company focused on hearing health and wellness. Learn how AudioCardio can help maintain and strengthen your hearing with your favorite headphones or hearing aids at