Sudden Hearing Loss - Symptoms, Diagnosis & Co

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Sudden Hearing Loss - Symptoms, Diagnosis & Co
Sudden Hearing Loss - Symptoms, Diagnosis & Co

Video: Sudden Hearing Loss - Symptoms, Diagnosis & Co

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Video: Expert Chat: What to Know About Sudden Hearing Loss 2023, January

Sudden hearing loss

A sudden hearing loss is usually unilateral, sudden onset of hearing loss or even deafness, with no apparent cause. A sudden hearing loss is almost always accompanied by an uncomfortable ringing in the ears, and sometimes dizziness. Smaller, temporary hearing loss is relatively common. Severe hearing loss with permanent damage rarely occurs - about one in 3,000 people annually. Sudden hearing loss rarely occurs in childhood and adolescence. The peak of the disease is around the age of 50. Little is known about the mechanisms by which it develops…


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  • What are the causes of sudden hearing loss?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • How is the diagnosis made?
  • How is hearing loss treated?
  • Whom can I ask?
  • How are the costs going to be covered?

What are the causes of sudden hearing loss?

Possible triggers are virus infections (e.g. mumps or influenza), circulatory disorders in the inner ear (e.g. as a result of thrombosis, embolism or vascular spasms), autoimmune processes and metabolic disorders and probably also stress. This can damage the auditory cells ("hair cells") in the inner ear.

  • In the event of a "minor" sudden hearing loss, these cells recover and hearing ability returns to normal after a certain period of time.
  • In the event of a "severe" sudden hearing loss, some of the auditory cells can die. Since these cannot be replaced, hearing impairment remains in the affected frequency range.

What are the symptoms?

The sudden hearing loss usually occurs on one side, only in exceptional cases on both sides. In the first few hours, the focus is usually on violent ringing in the ears (tinnitus) or a feeling of pressure. The hearing loss can vary in severity. It can be partial and only affect certain frequencies or it can be absolute - then the affected ear is deaf.

Sometimes the sudden hearing loss is accompanied by other symptoms, such as dizziness, a furry feeling around the auricle or changed hearing, such as double hearing, hypersensitivity or distortion.

Most minor hearing loss will resolve on their own within hours or days. Severe sudden hearing loss can permanently impair hearing. In addition, they can have unpleasant consequences, ranging from impaired quality of life to psychological disorders such as anxiety disorders.

How is the diagnosis made?

In addition to a detailed anamnesis and an examination of the ear, nose and throat area, blood pressure measurement, ear microscopy, hearing tests (tuning fork, tone audiogram), tympanometry and additional diagnostic methods may be necessary.

How is hearing loss treated?

Since the causes of sudden hearing loss are largely unclear, no causal therapy can be carried out. Some treatments can improve the situation, but in individual cases they can also be ineffective. The chances of recovery are relatively good in the following situations:

  • Therapy begins within four to five days.
  • The sudden hearing loss is not severe.
  • Improvements can already be seen in the first few days.

Not every sudden hearing loss requires immediate treatment. Those affected should nevertheless consult an ENT doctor as early as possible. Often, in consultation with him / her, in the case of minor hearing loss, you can wait a few days to see whether the symptoms subside by themselves. This is the case in about 80 percent. However, early treatment is recommended for severe hearing loss, previously damaged ears and persistent dizziness. Sudden hearing loss therapy is carried out on an outpatient or inpatient basis, depending on the individual case. The following measures can be used:

  • Cortisone: against inflammatory reactions,
  • "Blood-thinning" drugs (as an infusion or in tablet form, e.g. betahistidine) to improve blood circulation and the oxygen supply in the inner ear,
  • possibly antiviral substances,
  • Rest and relief from stress.

What can I do myself?

The following measures are useful both in the event of a sudden hearing loss and for prevention:

  • Treat yourself to rest and relaxation.
  • Avoid stress and noise.

Whom can I ask?

If you have a sudden hearing loss, you can contact the following offices:

  • General Practitioner,
  • ENT doctor.

How are the costs going to be covered?

All necessary and appropriate therapies are covered by the health insurance carriers. Your doctor or the outpatient clinic will generally settle accounts directly with your health insurance provider. With certain health insurance providers, however, you may have to pay a deductible (BVAEB, SVS, SVS, BVAEB).

However, you can also use a doctor of your choice (ie doctor without a health insurance contract) or a private outpatient clinic. For more information, see Costs and Deductibles.

When hospitalization is required

If a hospital stay is required, the hospital costs will be invoiced. The patient has to pay a daily contribution to the costs. Further medication treatment at home takes place by prescription from the general practitioner or specialist.

For more information, see What does a hospital stay cost?

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