What is sudden hearing loss?
Most of the time, hearing loss Hearing Loss Hearing loss—a reduced ability to hear sound—makes daily life and communication harder. You may lose some or all of your hearing in one or both ears. If you've lost only some hearing, you may... read more happens gradually, over many years. But sometimes, hearing loss happens suddenly, within a few hours or overnight.
Sudden hearing loss usually happens in only one ear
You may also have other symptoms, such as ringing in your ears, dizziness, or feeling like you’re spinning (vertigo Dizziness and Vertigo Dizziness is an inexact term people often use to describe various related sensations, including Faintness (feeling about to pass out) Light-headedness Dysequilibrium (feeling off balance or... read more )
Most often, doctors don't find a reason for sudden hearing loss
Sometimes, sudden hearing loss is caused by a very loud noise, severe head injury, infection, or use of certain medicines
In a few weeks, about half of people get all their hearing back and many others get some hearing back
See a doctor right away if you have sudden hearing loss.
What causes sudden hearing loss?
Most often, doctors can't find a cause for sudden hearing loss.
When there is a cause, it's usually something obvious like:
A sudden, very loud noise, such as an explosion or gunshot
A bad head injury
A sudden, severe pressure change Barotrauma of the Ear Barotrauma is an injury caused by rapid changes in environmental pressure, as occur during airplane flights or scuba diving. Barotrauma can cause ear pain or damage the eardrum. The eardrum... read more in the ear (such as from air travel or scuba diving)
Certain medicines that have the side effect of damaging your hearing
What will happen at my doctor visit?
Doctors will ask questions about your hearing loss and do a physical exam. They usually do:
Depending on your examination and hearing tests, doctors may also do:
CT scan Computed Tomography A CT scan uses a large machine shaped like a large donut to take x-rays from many angles. A computer then takes the x-rays and creates many detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Each... read more (computed tomography) or MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) MRI is a test that uses a machine with a powerful magnet to make pictures of the inside of your body. A computer creates a series of detailed pictures. Each picture looks like a slice taken... read more (magnetic resonance imaging) of your head
How do doctors treat sudden hearing loss?
Doctors treat any health problem that's causing your hearing loss. If they can't tell what's causing your hearing loss, they may try giving you:
Corticosteroids by mouth or as a shot in your ear