WebMD Logo Icon
WebMD Connect to Care helps you find services to manage your health. When you purchase any of these services, WebMD may receive a fee. WebMD does not endorse any product, service or treatment referred to on this page. X

Sudden Hearing Loss Recovery: What You Can Expect

By WebMD Connect to Care Staff
Medically Reviewed by Jordan Glicksman, MD, FRCSC, MPH on March 16, 2021
Your recovery from sudden hearing loss depends on how early you catch and treat symptoms.

A gradual decline in your hearing is a common problem that you may face as you grow older. But if you experience sudden hearing loss, it's possible you have a condition called sudden sensorineural hearing loss.

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, sudden sensorineural hearing loss is a condition that causes you to lose your hearing rapidly and could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. It is important that you immediately see a doctor for sudden hearing loss treatment options to prevent permanent hearing loss.

Sudden Hearing Loss Causes

According to Harvard Health Publishing, sudden hearing loss is prevalent among people in their 50s and 60s. It generally affects only one ear and you may feel your hearing going away really fast — usually all at once in a matter of seconds or over a few hours. Most people experience it in the mornings after waking up and hear a loud “pop” before they lose their hearing.

According to the National Institutes of Health, in most cases, the cause of sudden hearing loss is unknown but it may be triggered by the following:

  • Ear infections
  • Injury to the ear
  • Immune system disorders
  • Cancer drugs
  • Inner ear diseases such as Ménière’s disease
  • Blocked blood flow to the ear
  • A mass or tumor on or around the auditory nerve

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that oral steroids, such as prednisone, are a standard treatment option for sudden sensorineural hearing loss. These oral steroids should be prescribed immediately, as there is a 2-4 week window for optimal treatment. Beyond this time window, hearing loss could become irreversible. 

The NIH also adds that steroid injections directly into the middle ear, also known as intratympanic treatment, are another option. This treatment method could administer more medicine directly to the ear and help you avoid some of the side effects associated with oral steroids. 

If your doctor is able to identify the cause of your sudden hearing loss, then you may be prescribed more targeted medicines, according to the National Institutes of Health. For example, you may be prescribed antibiotics if your doctor diagnoses an infection or autoimmunity suppressing drugs if your sudden deafness is caused by an immunity problem.

If your hearing does not recover even after taking steroids or other prescribed medications, your doctor may recommend hearing aids or inner ear implants. 

Sudden Hearing Loss Recovery

Your stress levels could directly impact your recovery from sensorineural hearing loss.

A 2019 article published by the American Journal of Audiology studied a sample of 55 patients to examine the potential links between chronic stress and the success levels of steroid therapy for sudden sensorineural hearing loss. The study found that patients with both low and high stress levels had less success with steroid treatment than those with moderate stress levels. 

Hearing Loss Can Be Treated and Managed.

In many cases, hearing loss is a treatable condition. It is worth taking the time out to get the answers and treatment you or your loved one deserves. Don’t wait. Start today.