Sudden SSHL After Infection

On January 24 I rather suddenly developed severe pain in my left ear. I also quickly developed ringing, popping, and hearing loss. As it was a Sunday, I went to an urgent care facility and was, unsurprisingly, diagnosed with acute otitis media. I was given a 10 day course of antibiotics and told to take decongestants and a steroid spray to help clear my ear. After 12 days I was still experiencing symptoms, so I went to my PCP and was advised to use Afrin for at most two days to try to open up the Eustachian tube. Finally, after a little over two weeks, my ear drained. But my hearing did not return.

So yesterday I went to an ENT. He examined my ear and confirmed that the infection seemed to have cleared nicely. Tympanometry revealed slight negative pressure in my left ear, but nothing significant. Then I had a hearing test. As I suspected, they found a moderately severe hearing loss (~65 dB starting at about 1 kHz) in my left ear. They also found a mild hearing loss (30-35 dB) in my right ear. They did a bone conductivity test, which showed nearly identical results.

So the next step is apparently an Auditory Brainstem Response test (ABR), scheduled for March 3. Unless they find something they don’t expect in that, though, I guess I’m looking at at least one hearing aid.

This is all still pretty new, and I’m still adjusting to the idea that my hearing isn’t coming back. But at the same time, I have all kinds of questions. Is there anything I should be sure that the doctor doesn’t overlook? What can I expect after my next test? Is it too early to start reading up on hearing aids? Is it really advisable to have just one hearing aid? Are there any questions that I should be asking but don’t even know to be asking?

I’d really appreciate any advice or even words of encouragement you could offer. Although I have a supportive wife and family, I’m feeling kind of alone right now since none of them have any experience or knowledge in this area than I do.

All I can tell you almost 2 years after a similar event is that a lot of the early effects and worry can be gotten use to. Mine was from a medication (NSAID) that brought it about. Fortunately, the Meniere’s like attacks have gone away. I’d been having hearing problems not related with the right ear being the “good” ear. Of course that was the one affected.

Hearing aids don’t replace the hearing of youth but they are getting better. Be sure you find a source for aids that you are comfortable with and confident with. There is a lot of schlock operations in this business. Demand a trial period in writing and be willing to start the process over. Fitting is a slow and ongoing process for best result and you don’t want to be stuck in a bad situation.

You might want to check out Costco. It is what I am in the process of doing and they give you a 90 day trial.

Were you prescribed steroids at any point? They can help reverse the effects of SSNL and are routinely prescribed in such cases. Do you know what your hearing was like (audiogram) prior to the SSNL event?

Going forward you will certainly want to protect what hearing you have remaining and begin seeking out hearing loss solutions. One of my first steps would be to log onto Hearing Loos Association of America to get further information.

There is a lot of help available so keep the faith and keep us posted.

I do not know what my audiogram looked like before this; I suspect that I had the same mild hearing loss in my left ear that I still have in my right, but I’ve not been tested since I was a child. I have noticed difficulty in crowds over the past year or so, and my wife says she had noticed me turning up the TV louder than in the past. I am certain, however, that my hearing has precipitously declined in my left ear since my recent ear infection.

I have not been prescribed systemic steroids. I will contact my ENT today and ask about it.

Do you know what antibiotics were prescribed? Some can be ototoxic and can cause further hearing loss.

Follow-up: my ENT just left me a message saying that he’d called in a prescription for a two week course of “high dose steroids” with taper. He sounded like he wasn’t too hopeful but didn’t think it would hurt. I think from the way he was talking at my last appointment that he believes my hearing loss was more gradual than I realize and that my ear infection merely drew my attention to it (which I have to admit is possible despite my subjective perception that my hearing has significantly deteriorated in the past four weeks). I wish I had a pre-infection audiogram for comparison.

I also got confirmation from the ENT’s office that my ABR test will be fully covered by insurance. What is more, I’ve looked into my insurance coverage with Oxford and discovered that they will cover the full cost of hearing aids in the event that I need them, subject only to deductible (which has already been met for the year) and $100 copay. This is the first time I’ve been glad of our recent switch from Anthem BCBS.

Yes, I took 850 mg of amoxicillin three times daily for 10 days. I’ve had amoxicillin numerous times in the past without negative effects, but I realize that such things can be unpredictable.

It’s worth a try. I’ve been on steroids three times due to hearing loss “episodes”. Twice they had no or little effect and once we did recover some low frequency hearing. If administered within 30 days of SSNL onset there a decent correlation showing success. Best of luck!

Thanks, guys. Is it too early for me to start looking at hearing aids? I will admit that I haven’t been able to help myself; it’s what I always do when something big happens in my life: try to get as much information as possible. It keeps my mind occupied. So far, I’ve been alternately fascinated by the technology and depressed by its limitations.

maybe not wait so long seeking medical hekp?

Wow. What an asshole thing to say. Also way off-base, as from the onset of symptoms there has never been a time when I have not been under a physician’s care and following his prescribed treatment, including his explicit advice on when to consult an ENT.

You get used to Doc Jakes bedside manner after awhile. The big problem with going to a regular doctor or urgent care, ER etc. is they tend to pooh pooh an ear ache or sudden ear pain, hearing loss, etc. and prescribe antibiotics that may or may not be ototoxic and not refer you to an ENT until it’s too late. Always insist on being seen by an ENT and hope that you see a good one when you get to see them. Do You remember what antibiotic you were given and what decongestants you took when this all started?

It’s normal to go through the fascination/depression cycle, I still do! I just got my Bluetooth Phone Clip yesterday and can now send sounds from my phone directly to electrodes in my inner ear to hear on the phone. It is pretty amazing for a deaf guy like me!

Start researching here:

Don’t get overwhelmed because there’s never been better or more assistance out there for people like us!

well dumb-ass look’s like you left a lot out of the OP.

Good ol’ Jakey – king of the bile-soaked and repetitious one liners. Gotta love his persistence.

Doc Jake were you this way at the VA, or are you now taking it out on everyone here because you could not do so at the VA.

It’s really not reasonable for someone with no history of hearing loss to insist on seeing an ENT for every earache. How many millions of people come down with an ear infection annually? Should we really expect ever person who’s got an earache to get a full audiology exam with bone conduction testing?

I took amoxicillin 850 mg three times daily. I took pseudoephedrine following the doctor’s instructions (which I don’t have handy) and was later told to take an Oxymetazalone HCL nasal spray twice daily for a maximum of two days. That was what seems finally to have cleared the congestion. My doctor gave me a prescription for moxifloxacin, which I did not take because the congestion cleared and the doctor had already confirmed that the infection had cleared.

Thanks! I’m going to keep looking into aids; my primary focus, aside from speech clarity, is on keeping the sound as natural as possible. I have perfect pitch, so any frequency shifting would be very unsettling. Can frequency-shifting technologies be disabled in most hearing aids? Are there any with broader frequency coverage than others?

none of the Vets were near as tender as some folks here none of the Vets came in with a list of stupid paranold questions they read on the internet none of them ran hpme to mommy crying the mean people wouldn’ t give the aids i wanted only what i needed. When you were in the Navy how much hand holding and touchy feelly advice did you get? How many apologized whenthey politey suggested maybe you do this or that.

First of all you did what you should of done and that is to go see a doctor, however, a sudden onset earache that is bad enough to send the patient to an urgent care facility on a weekend, should not be ignored and treated like just another earache, the doctor should have referred you to an ENT. Urgent care is usually only interested in treating symptoms and not getting to the cause of the problem and they take a wait and see approach, this can lead to bad end results in such cases. There are many people like you on various sites like this one who had the same issues, went to the doctor and are deaf in one or both ears today. Time is of the essence in situations like yours and if it isn’t treated in a timely manner permanent hearing loss is often the end result.

I guess both of us need to be glad that you were not my Audi and I was not your patient, due to the fact that I do ask lots of questions, and I do demand lots of information. That is due to the fact that I was not really in the regular Navy most of my service career, but was part of WHCA. I learned just how politics works. And by the way I hate it but know how to use it when needed. While I hate being politically correct, I do know how to use it if needed too.

But yes I do know what you mean. When I was part of the regular we were taught to think for our selves and to do what was needed, and that worked to my advantage also while in WHCA. It took what I learned in the regular Navy and also what learned as part of WHCA to get through the rest of my work career. Also I will say that WHCA background opened lots of doors, in public life.

By the way, to follow up on an earlier question, I am now taking 60 mg/day of prednisone for 10 days followed by a taper. It might not do anything, but I think it’s better to try it than always to wonder.