Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment
The results of your hearing tests will indicate which treatment is best for your particular sudden hearing loss.
How is Sudden Hearing Loss Treated?
Based on the results of these tests, a cause can be presumed (usually) or proven (rarely), and the appropriate treatment is started. Virus is the most common cause, although there is no specific test to prove it. It is generally believed that steroids (cortisone), taken orally over one to two weeks, are the single most beneficial treatment for sudden hearing loss, although they do not lead to improvement in every case. There has been recent enthusiasm for injecting steroids directly into the ear, a procedure whose value is still under investigation. Injection clearly achieves higher doses in the inner ear fluids, but it is not clear whether this leads to a better outcome; furthermore, questions remain about what the best dose is, and how often it should be given.
Anti-oxidants have been shown to promote healing of the inner ear. Sometimes “NAC” (N-acetylcysteine), gingko, or aspirin is prescribed. Antivirals have also been used, but two well-controlled studies, one in the U.S. and one in Europe, have failed to show any benefit. Stroke or ischemia can be treated with blood thinners. Inner-ear membrane rupture is treated with bedrest; in certain cases, surgical exploration of the ear may be recommended to patch the inner ear membranes (round and oval windows) with fat from the earlobe (a minor procedure with low risk but uncertain benefit). Specific causes have specific treatments: AIED is treated with steroids or immune suppressants, Meniere’s disease with diuretics and low-salt diet, acoustic neuroma with surgery or radiotherapy.
Most doctors agree that treatments are most effective when started as early as possible after the onset of the loss; unfortunately, a significant number of patients don’t regain their hearing.
We can help
Don’t assume that your hearing cannot be restored. Doctors at the Hearing and Balance Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City have extensive experience in all available treatments. Please call us at 212-241-9410 to schedule an appointment.