Sometimes you’re sitting around and things sound a little different. Maybe you’ve got a head cold that’s limiting your ability to hear. Maybe some water from the shower is leaving your favorite song muffled.
But when there is no reasonable explanation for a sudden hearing downgrade, you might want to have it checked it out.
Sensorineural hearing loss, or SHL, is an underdiagnosed condition that could lead to permanent hearing damage. The problem is that it’s very easy to brush off. It can feel like a head cold or water-clogged ear, so usual treatments are often applied.
The problem is that they do nothing to help SHL.
People in their 50s or 60s are most likely to experience SHL, but anybody can get it. It occurs in one ear and can start with a small pop or feeling that the ear is clogged. Hearing loss may not be immediate but may gradually degrade over minutes or hours.
It’s also relatively difficult to pinpoint what causes the condition to arise. There are theories to suggest it could result from a viral infection, immune disorder, an inflammatory injury to the ear, blocked blood flow, or a combination of these.
Brushing off these symptoms or delaying a response can be highly detrimental. Doctors recommend getting it checked out as soon as possible, and within 10-14 days, as it offers the best chance of avoiding permanent hearing damage.
That said, there are no guarantees. But every day you delay getting checked, your chances for recovery and having your hearing restored decrease.
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any preventative measures you can take. However, if cases are tied to immune trouble, eating a diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods might help. Yet there is little evidence to suggest it will.
If your hearing suddenly and unexpectedly dwindles in one ear, give your doctor a call. If it’s SHL, the sooner you get treatment the better.