Is all hearing loss permanent? This is a popular question we hear all the time. Most types of hearing loss are permanent, but some hearing loss conditions can be temporary. If you are experiencing any new difficulty hearing, it is very important that you seek treatment immediately to ensure if it is temporary that it doesn’t become permanent.
Causes of Temporary Hearing Loss
Hearing loss typically happens very gradually over time. However, temporary hearing loss can appear suddenly and is usually instantly recognized. There are several potential causes of temporary hearing loss. Learning the reason why you are having trouble hearing can help you identify the treatment needed.
- Noise induced hearing loss. Exposure to excessive noise over time has the potential to cause permanent hearing loss. However, temporary threshold shift can also occur for a period during and after exposure to loud sounds. A person may experience reduced hearing for a short time after being in a loud situation and then recover once in quiet again. The more severe or frequent the noise exposure, the more likely it is to cause damage, so we advise the use of hearing protection whenever high noise is present.
- Ear wax blockage. A buildup of earwax can cause a blockage of the ear canal which often results in difficulty hearing. To determine the extent of blockage and the best management options for removal, consult your hearing care or medical professional. Further damage may occur if you try to remove it on your own and end up pushing it further into your ear canal. Hearing usually returns to normal once the ear wax blockage is removed by a medical professional.
- Foreign object stuck in the ear canal. In addition to earwax buildup, other foreign objects can become lodged inside the canal and may cause temporary hearing loss until they are removed. A medical professional like an audiologist or an ear, nose & throat specialist are best suited for removing foreign objects from your ears. We caution you to not attempt to remove any foreign objects yourself due to the risk of damage to the ear or hearing. Treatment should be sought out immediately to reduce the risk of damage or infection.
- High blood pressure. High blood pressure is something that you should see your doctor about whether it is affecting your hearing or not. A common side effects of hypertension is a buzzing or ringing in the ears. This condition, called tinnitus, can be reduced or eliminated when blood pressure is returned to normal.
- Strenuous exercise. Exercise is normally a good thing. However, if you overexert yourself beyond your physical capability, temporary hearing loss can be one of the symptoms. This may be related to the changes in pressure, blood flow, or changes to the balance of fluid within the inner ear. Rest will often recover hearing back to normal levels should this occur.
- Ear infection. Ear infections in the outer ear or the middle ear can cause temporary hearing loss. A common method of treatment includes use of antibiotics (oral or ear drops) prescribed by your doctor. Unless it is extremely severe or goes untreated for a length of time, your hearing should return to normal once the infection clears up.
- Hole in the Ear Drum. A hole in the ear drum, also called a perforation can be caused by trauma, dramatic changes in pressure, or untreated infection. This is a condition that needs to be diagnosed by a medical professional. Smaller perforations will usually heal on their own; but in some more severe cases tympanoplasty has to be performed to patch the eardrum. Depending on the extent of damage, hearing is likely to return to normal once the hole in the ear drum has closed up.
Seek Treatment for Temporary or Permanent Hearing Loss
Any time you detect a change in your hearing it is advisable to see an audiologist for a hearing assessment. Some hearing loss may be hard to perceive, so a full evaluation is needed to determine the presence and extent of loss, understand the causes, and identify treatment. Even permanent hearing loss can fluctuate or progress; seek treatment to avoid an increased degree of hearing loss or any of the other side effects that can accompany hearing loss.
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Have any questions about your hearing or hearing aids? We’re here to help you! HearingLife (formerly Family Audiology) is dedicated to helping you hear better! Contact us today and schedule an appointment at our audiology office in Endwell, NY.