I’m writing this so that it might be helpful for anyone who has this experience.
First of all this condition is properly called Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL).
It should be treated as a medical emergency - the equivalent of losing the vision in one eye suddenly (and usually without obvious cause.).
About five years ago I awoke on Thanksgiving day with no hearing in my left ear. I could not even perceive a dial tone from a regular phone - at all.
I went into my Internal Medicine doctor’s office on Friday. The ENT clinic was closed but my doctor did a phone consult with the ENT on call. She started me on high dose oral steroids.
On Monday I had no improvement and I was in the ENT clinic as they opened.The doctor saw me and I had a hearing test. I could perceive no words, at all!(I’ll look for my test to post results, and edit this).
Over the weekend, my wife and I had searched the internet for information. One of the things we saw was a multi-location study, treating SSHL by employing (on the experimental side) the use of steroids injected through the ear drum. The purpose of the study was to look at alternate treatments for SSHL - particularly for those who are at risk or cannot tolerate oral steroids.
Those who were randomly assigned to the standard treatment regime were given oral steroids.
I requested that the doctor look at the study and give me the injected steroid treatment. While trained in Cleveland or Cincinnati, he was not familiar with this mode of treatment. He said he would consider it. Meantime I considered going to one of the study sights to enroll - problem being that I could be put in the standard treatment group. I also spoke to the administrators at two of the study sites where I thought I could go and pass the time between treatments.
The ENT doctor also ordered an MRI - to ensure that I did not have a tumor compromising my auditory nerve or inner ear - none was found.
The ENT doctor notified me that he had spoken with those doing the study and was willing to treat me with the injected steroids.So, I returned to the ENT clinic on Thursday (one week after onset) and received my first treatment. (Note: I had completed the five day course of oral steroids) By the following Sunday following I was experiencing the return of some of my hearing in that ear - altho’ distorted.
We attended a concert and I had to wear an ear plug in that ear… also in the grocery store in ‘beep!’ of the scanner was loud and distorted - disturbing.
What followed was four additional treatments - two per week for two more weeks. At the end of the treatment my hearing was retested and my left ear tested about where my right ear had tested.
Subsequently, I heard that the study was suspended because the injected steroids were so much more effective than oral steroids that it was not considered ethical to continue with the ‘standard’ oral steroid treatment.
Now five years + later, the tinnitus in my left ear is somewhat worse than my right and my upper range hearing is slightly worse than my right (annoying, tho).
I believe that my SSHL was probably due to a virus - about 30 days earlier I had an episode of the type of dizziness/associated nausea that is associated with inner ear problems. It went away (then) over night and I sought no treatment.
The steroid that I received was only available from one provider in my small area and had a preservative in it that I don’t think was in the steroid used in the study. I had about one hour of fairly intense pain after treatment as the steroid dripped down my eustachian tube. Ice packs and over the counter pain killers were a sufficient treatment.
SSHL happens across the population and is no more present in any specific population by age, gender, etc.
My doctor uses injected steroids (with patient consent) as his standard treatment for SSHL
Most GP’s and Internists may encounter one or two cases of SSHL in the course of many decades of practising medicine.
While ‘sudden’ hearing loss can be plugged ears, plugged eustachian tubes, etc, actual SSHL requires rapid treatment. Going on an antibiotic, waiting three weeks for an ENT clinic appointment etc is a prescription for permanent hearing loss.