Hearing loss is permanent, and unfortunately more damage can occur whether due to environmental, health or genetic factors. Sometimes a change in hearing is temporary or accompanies a common cold, while in other cases, a drop could be permanent.
We took a look at what can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss changes and then sat down with our Vice President of Audiology and Professional Relations, Dave Fabry, to discuss what you should do if you experience a sudden drop in your hearing.
What can cause changes in hearing?
- Having too much wax buildup in your ears or fluid inside the eardrum
- Exposure to loud noises for prolonged periods of time (85dB and above)
- Colds, sinus infections and nasal congestion
- Medical conditions including autoimmune, vascular, neurological, trauma, toxin, infections or viruses
What should you do if you experience changes in hearing due to the above?
- If you think you might have too much wax buildup in your ears or fluid inside the eardrum: See your hearing professional to have your ears cleaned or your medical professional if you suspect that you have an ear infection and fluid behind the eardrum. An audiogram, in combination with otoscopy and a test called tympanometry, will reveal whether fluid is present behind the eardrum.
- Exposure to loud noises for prolonged periods of time (85dB and above): Prolonged exposure to loud sounds above 85 decibels may be damaging to your hearing. If you have been to a concert and your ears ring or feel “stuffy” afterwards, you may have suffered temporary damage that may take 1-2 days to fully recover. Stay away from loud sounds, get a hearing test after exposure, and wear hearing protection next time! Permanent damage may occur after even a single exposure if the sounds exceed 100 decibels.
- Colds, sinus infections and nasal congestion: Take decongestant, sinus sprays, apply a warm washcloth to your face, sleep in an upright position with a humidifier running in the room if possible, take medicine, and if needed see your doctor for antibiotics or a nasal lavage. If you have a cold or sinus infection and have to fly, it may be useful to take decongestants or use nasal sprays beforehand to prevent ear pain and sinus discomfort. Consult your physician to see if additional medication or treatment is necessary.
- Medical conditions including autoimmune, vascular, neurological, trauma, toxin, infections or viruses: You should seek help from your medical professional as soon as possible, especially if the condition is classified as a medical emergency requiring immediate care.
Click here for a handy table of medical conditions that can result in sudden hearing loss.
Feel like your hearing has changed lately? Take our free hearing test here to find out if your hearing has altered recently.