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Sudden Hearing Loss Explained

Sudden hearing loss accounts for about 1% of the overall number of sensorineural hearing loss cases. Sudden hearing loss can occur at any point in anyone's lifetime.

We guide you through causes, symptoms, and how to properly manage the condition.

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), commonly known as sudden deafness, occurs rapidly, either all of a sudden or over a few days. SHL is defined as a 30dB reduction in hearing which occurs over a three-day period or less.

The majority of people who experience sudden hearing loss only lose hearing in one ear.  Many people will first notice a hearing loss first thing in the morning or when using the phone. People with sudden deafness may experience dizziness and even tinnitus.

Many people report that sudden hearing loss spontaneously vanishes but it is advised that those who develop a case of SHL should consult a medical professional.

Causes of Sudden Hearing Loss

Most cases of sudden sensorineural hearing loss have no identifiable origin and a cause can be found in only 15% of people. There are four main causes of SHL:

  • Circulatory anomalies
  • A viral infection of the cochlea
  • Irregularities of the cochlear membrane
  • Autoimmune disorders

However, the most common cause is a disturbance of the cochlear blood flow. Some of the major causes of hearing loss are associated with aging, childhood effusions, noise-induced hearing loss and infections. Hearing loss becomes more prevalent as the senior population increases.

Possible Causes of SHL

Earwax: The most common and reversible cause of sudden hearing loss is earwax (which is a common problem for elderly people, a frequent cause of hearing loss, as well as of hearing aid malfunction). The solution may be as simple as a removal of the cerumen.

Excess fluid: Deviations in air pressure may result in malfunctioning eustachian tubes. They typically let air enter the middle ear to balance pressure. When the tubes do not work correctly, fluid can accumulate and obstruct sound vibrations from getting into the inner ear, which leads to a decreased ability to hear.

Infections: Some viruses cause infections in the hearing nerve or the inner ear. In cases where SHL is a result of an infection of the inner ear, early treatment with antiviral medication and steroids will enhance the chance of recovery.

Damage to bones: If the bones located in the middle ear lose contact with each other or become frozen in place, sudden hearing loss is likely to occur.

Artery blockage: Blood is supplied to the inner ear by a single, small artery. Sudden hearing loss may occur if the artery becomes blocked. The cause of artery blockage may be the collection of plaques. Patients with a high blood pressure and diabetics are at higher risk.

Ageing: Age-related hearing loss happens progressively. This has no effect on the conduction of sound waves and is simply a result of ageing cells.

Furthermore, causes of SHL differ depending on age. For example, otosclerosis, chronic suppurative ear disease, previous trauma, history of ototoxic drug treatment or genetic causes may be signs of early hearing loss.

Treating Hearing Impairments

Depending on the cause of SHL, treatment will vary. In many cases, sudden hearing loss will fix itself naturally. If it fails to do so, you should visit a medical professional for audiological testing.

If the hearing loss is progressive and remains, then hearing aids may be the next logical step to better hearing. Hearing aids have a positive effect on everyday activities for the hearing impaired and can greatly improve your quality of life. We also have a range of items to assist those with hearing loss such as:

Hearing Test

At HearingDirect, we have created our very own online hearing test so you can test your hearing for free and in the comfort of your own home.

sudden hearing loss

All you will need is a few free minutes and some ear or headphones. Once the test is complete, you will get your results instantly via email and based on the outcome of the hearing test, you may be encouraged to take further action.

Managing Hearing Loss

Managing hearing loss can be done with a variety of instruments. At Hearing Direct we supply a number of devices to help those effectively manage their hearing impairment.

We provide a range of key products to help those with hearing loss maintain a better quality of life. Digital hearing aids are crucial to lifestyle satisfaction, helping those with hearing loss enjoy the sounds they love to hear.

sudden hearing loss HD 91 Digital Hearing Aid

The HD 91 is our entry-level model and starts from $149/£99. It includes the essential features required to help improve hearing. It is so small and lightweight that it's likely you will forget you are even wearing a device.

About Hearing Direct

At HearingDirect.com, we also offer a number of devices to help those who are hard of hearing.

Along with our affordable hearing aid range, you can also shop:

We are dedicated to providing high-quality items to help improve the lives of the hard of hearing and elderly.


If you have any questions, please do contact us and our expert team will do their best to help you.

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