Causes of Temporary Hearing Loss
Often referred to as sudden deafness, sudden hearing loss occurs as an accelerated loss of hearing is experienced, either over a week or so or all in one go. While it can be unilateral, it more commonly affects just one ear. 90% of those who experience sudden hearing loss experienced it in just one ear.
As the name suggests, temporary hearing loss can usually be corrected, especially if caught early on. However, it can become permanent. Some of the symptoms you might experience with sudden hearing loss include the following:
- Muffled sounds in the ear
- Difficulty hearing over any noises in the background
- Balance issues and a feeling of dizziness
- Having a hard time following along with conversations
- Having a hard time hearing sounds of a higher pitch
The audiologists at New Jersey’s Becker ENT Center state that there could be one of two main reasons why you may be experiencing temporary hearing loss. Firstly, the sound is unable to travel from the middle ear to the inner ear because something may be blocking its path. Alternatively, sound may be able to reach the inner ear, however, damage to either the inner ear or neural pathways prevents the signals from traveling to the brain.
There are all kinds of reasons as to why sudden temporary hearing loss may occur, and it can often be difficult to work out just what the exact root of the issue is. Statistically speaking, in only 10 to 15 percent of cases are doctors able to find the exact cause of the hearing loss.
Ahead, we’ve got some common causes of temporary hearing loss to take you through, and luckily, for the most part, these are symptoms that are very easily and quickly remedied.
Ear Wax Obstruction
Ear wax is a totally normal, every day, protective part of our bodily ecosystem. It exists to protect the ear canal, however, it is possible for excessive amounts of ear wax to build up and get stuck or become impacted within the ear canal. When this happens, a sudden loss of hearing can occur due to the blockage preventing any sound waves from traveling through the ear canal and into the eardrum. As you can imagine, without an eardrum that’s able to properly function, the ability to hear will be negatively affected.
The best way to remedy an ear wax obstruction and restore hearing back to its normal state is by paying a visit to a healthcare provider. A healthcare provider will be able to flush out or remove any wax from an ear canal with ease, and for the most part, the procedure should be quick and pain-free.
Stuck Foreign Object
Just like with the excessive ear wax example, any foreign object that gets stuck in the ear canal (maybe the tip of a cotton bud, for example) can prevent the sound waves from reaching the eardrum and cause temporary hearing loss.
Obviously, a trip to the doctor or a healthcare provider can remedy this one. They’ll be able to get in and remove anything that’s causing a blockage.
Excessive Amounts of Mucus
Excessive amounts of mucus can be caused by several factors, such as flu, the common cold, hay fever, or any other allergies. An excessive amount of mucus can cause blocked Eustachian tubes which are the canals that connect the middle ear to the nasopharynx, consisting of the back of the nasal cavity and the upper throat.
Infections in the Middle Ear
If a bacteria-filled fluid has made its way to the area behind the eardrum, an infection will likely follow. Due to a passageway to the back of the throat stemming from the middle ear, a fairly nasty virus or cold can easily develop from an ear infection. Ear infections such as these are especially prevalent in children, and can possibly affect their hearing, albeit temporarily.
When the body is trying its best to fight off an infection, a build-up of fluids can occur in the middle ear. The fluids can then place pressure upon the ear’s structures, such as the middle ear bones, and in some cases, so much pressure can be placed on the middle ear that the eardrum can rupture. If an eardrum ruptures, blood, and pus will leak from the ear, making matters even worse. While this can be painful, once the infection has cleared it will be able to heal itself.
Most often, antibiotics can treat an ear infection. Don’t stop taking them once you feel better, however. Continue to follow the course as laid out by your doctor so you can be sure the infection has been wiped out completely.
Head Injuries or Traumas
Sudden violent blows to the head, after a car accident, for example, can cause concussions to the brain which can, in turn, cause sudden hearing loss if the auditory system and pathway have been damaged.
While serious injuries such as these can be permanent, if an injury only affects the outer or middle ear, a type of hearing loss will occur that’s known as conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss passes after a few months in most cases. If the trauma was severe enough to cause damage to the inner ear, however, then the hearing loss may become long term, or even permanent.
Loud Noise Exposure
When surrounded by loud enough noise, and frequently enough, then hearing loss may occur. If exposure to these loud noises is infrequent, your hearing may be able to recover. However, frequent exposure to loud enough noise that can cause ringing in the ears can lead to permanent hearing loss somewhere down the road.
This could be anything from construction work, to loud concerts, or listening to music with their headphones too loud. Often tinnitus can result from exposure to high noise, so keep the volume at an appropriate level and wear protective ear equipment when you’re at those loud shows to prevent any chances of causing permanent hearing loss.