How do I know if I have Sudden Hearing Loss?

Typically, sudden hearing loss only affects one ear. People often notice the difference when they wake up in the morning, try and only hear through one ear, e.g. use a phone, or after hearing an unsettling popping noise. For some people, the effects are only mild and their hearing quickly returns. However, you may experience more severe and long-lasting effects.

As part of sudden hearing loss, you may experience tinnitus. This is when only you can hear a specific and highly repetitive noise, such as a ringing, buzzing or humming. Some people also feel a sensation of vertigo or dizziness, which can throw off your sense of balance.

Causes of Sudden Hearing Loss

information and advice

The cause of sudden hearing loss is not always easy to pinpoint, by either you or a doctor. However, there are a number of possibilities.


Ear infections can frequently cause a buildup of fluid within the middle ear section. In some severe cases, the pressure of the fluid builds to the point that it ruptures the eardrum itself, causing a sudden reduction in hearing. Viral infections can also cause inflammation within the sensitive inner ear or along the auditory nerve.


Unsurprisingly, any serious head injury can cause sudden hearing loss. The violent nature of such injuries can easily damage any section of the ear, including the auditory nerve, the ear canal, the eardrum, the sensitive hair cells and the small bones of the middle ear.

Loud Noise

If you’re attending a concert, a busy construction site or anywhere else where there is unusually loud noise, we would always recommend that you wear ear protection.


Earwax is a perfectly normal substance which helps keep your ears clean. It collects dust and dirt and moves them away from the sensitive inner ear. However, sometimes earwax can build up. This results in sudden hearing loss as sound waves can no longer travel through the ear canal. Earwax actually expands when it gets wet which is why some people’s hearing becomes muffled following a swim.

Ototoxic Medication

When taken in strong doses, some drugs can cause sudden hearing loss. If you are using antibiotics, anti-inflammatories or chemotherapy drugs, and begin to notice changes in your hearing, speak to your doctor right away. .


Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment

If you believe you are experiencing sudden hearing loss, we would always recommend that contact a medical professional immediately. Given that this type of hearing loss can develop within hours, you may need to contact an out-of-hours service rather than your normal GP. A healthcare professional can work to limit the extent of the damage as well identify any underlying health condition causing the problem.

The sooner you seek sudden hearing loss treatment, the greater the chance of you being able to enjoy life’s special moments. Get in touch today if you have any concerns.

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment 1: Medication

The most common form of sudden hearing loss treatment is corticosteroids. This medication can reduce any swelling or inflammation in the ear canal caused by infection. It can also help if it is the auditory nerve itself that has become inflamed. Typically, steroids are taken orally as a pill but in certain circumstances they can be injected just behind the eardrum. If the infection is lingering, you may also be prescribed antibiotics to help fight it off.

On the other hand, if your doctor suspects that it was ototoxic medication that caused your sudden hearing loss in first place, they will have a discussion about whether to continue the treatment. Together you will decide whether the advantages of your present medication outweigh the loss of hearing.

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment 2: Hearing Aid

If your sudden hearing loss is suspected to have been caused by noise exposure, such as an explosion or particularly intense concert, hearing aids could be an option. Excessively loud noise damages the sensitive hair cells of the inner ear, and unfortunately these cells cannot repair themselves. A hearing aid can help fill that role by amplifying the sounds you struggle to hear, making it easier for the remaining hair cells to do their job.

The wide variety of hearing aids now available means that we’re confident you’ll find one that suits you. Our experienced hearing aid dispensers can advise you on fit, power and size. Whichever one you choose, they will ensure that the settings are perfectly calibrated to your level of hearing loss.

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment 3: Surgery

Hearing can sometimes be partially recovered through surgery, such as in the case of a perforated eardrum. Whether it’s caused by a single loud blast of noise or an excessive build-up of inner ear fluid, a perforated eardrum can frequently result in sudden hearing loss. Surgery performed on the eardrum is known as tympanoplasty. Although it requires general anaesthetic, this is an outpatient procedure so you can expect to be back at home the same day.

In some cases, sudden hearing loss simply returns after a period of time. However, this is not guaranteed and often the hearing is only partially restored. That is why we would always recommend you see a doctor as soon as possible.

We’re Here For You

If you are searching for guidance and further information on sudden hearing loss treatment, get in touch today. We partner with highly experienced hearing aid dispensers who can provide you with expert advice on your diagnosis, ensuring that you receive the most suitable treatment.

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