Sudden deafness! You don’t know when it will strike! If you’ve been working in an environment continuously exposed to excessive levels of noise from machinery or other industrial or chemical process without adequate ear protection, you are putting yourself at risk of long term hearing damage.
Usually, the symptoms of industrial deafness may go unnoticed, unless the warning signs of temporary deafness or tinnitus ( ringing sounds in the ears) are experienced, until the gradual deterioration in hearing reaches tipping point – and then it’s too late!
However a hearing loss event can occur at any time! Whether caused by noise induced hearing loss or another reason, it’s a medical emergency and you can’t afford to waste time if you want to stand a chance of getting you hearing back.
When sudden hearing loss occurs, unfortunately, on occasions, it’s always very possible that an A&E duty doctor may not fully realise the implications. They may refer you back to your GP and advise a cautious “wait and see” attitude. This could be a fatal error!
Knowing when a hearing loss is a medical emergency and when it is not can be almost impossible to determine with any degree of certainty.
One common example is distinguishing between a head cold leading to an inability to hear in one ear for a day or so, to having a viral infection of your inner ear, which is a medical emergency. In fact, about 25% of all the cases of sudden hearing loss develop just like this. Assuming it is just a cold, waiting to see if it will clear up may be a tragic mistake.
Until now, you had no way of knowing whether it was a medical emergency or not, however there is a quick test to separate these two conditions.
Here is all you need to do, assuming that only one ear is “blocked.” Hum out loud. If you hear your voice louder in the blocked ear, the problem is congestion (fluid in your middle ear) and is probably temporary until your cold goes away and your ear clears.
However, if you hear your voice louder in your good ear, this probably indicates a viral attack, causing permanent hearing loss if left untreated. If this is your case, seek treatment immediately. It’s been estimated that your chances of getting your hearing back with immediate treatment are greater than 50 per cent.
If both ears are blocked equally, the test isn’t going to work, and if you have reduced hearing in both ears you will need to seek professional medical help without delay.