Coping With Sudden Hearing Loss

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Sudden hearing loss, also known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), is an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing. It can be difficult to deal with its surprising onset and impact on everyday life. If you have experienced a sudden loss of hearing, it’s important to know you aren’t alone. And while you may be frustrated with your condition, there are ways to adjust and find hope.

Get a Diagnosis

The first step you should take after experiencing sudden hearing loss is to see a doctor immediately. Many people wait to seek help, thinking the problem could be due to allergies, a sinus infection, earwax buildup, or other condition. However, delaying SSHL diagnosis and care may decrease the effectiveness of treatment. If you haven’t already seen a doctor, go right away.

Move Forward

Only 10 to 15% of people diagnosed with SSHL will learn the cause of their condition, which can vary from an autoimmune or infectious disease to head trauma and much more. For the 85 to 90% of others, the cause may never be found. Although it may be difficult to understand and accept, don’t focus on the reason for the problem. Instead, direct your energy toward empowering yourself to improve your situation and overcome obstacles.

Seek Help

Sudden hearing loss can cause a host of emotions—from stress and grief to anger and denial. Realize it’s okay to feel these emotions and give yourself time to grieve. But don’t let your emotions hold you back. If you’re having trouble accepting your hearing loss or taking steps to improve your life, seek help. There are many support groups and counseling services available for people with hearing loss.

Tap into Technology

It can be frustrating to not hear common sounds you once did. It can also pose a safety concern. Turn to technology to help solve the problem. For example, specially equipped doorbells and telephones use flashing lights to signal someone is at the door or calling you.

Speak Up

Only you know what it’s like to deal with your hearing loss. And it’s up to you to communicate to others what you need. If you need your friends to talk loudly or slowly, tell them. If it would be helpful to have a seat at the front of a work meeting or seminar, ask for it. Be your own advocate.

Ease Stress

Adjusting to sudden hearing loss can be stressful. Try to ease that stress by not overloading your schedule. Continue to socialize with friends. Plan a fun activity. And focus on doing things that relax you, such as reading a book, swimming, or getting a massage.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Sep 3

  1. Hearing Loss and Stress. Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services. http://dhs.state.mn.us/main/idcplg?IdcService=GET_DYNAMIC_CONVERSION&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestR... 

  2. Losing Your Hearing Suddenly. Action on Hearing Loss. www.nhs.uk/ipgmedia/national/action%20on%20hearing%20loss/assets/losingyourhearingsuddenly.pdf 

  3. Sudden Deafness. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/sudden.aspx

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