Sudden Hearing Loss: What are options if steroids don't work?

Posted by m53 @m53, Sep 1, 2019

A family member experienced sudden hearing loss and was treated for wax build- up. On return to Dr., there was no improvement and a referral was made to ENT. Steriod treatment has not resulted in an improvement in hearing, and family member has been told it is unlikely hearing in that ear will be regained. It is now about 8 weeks since loss. Any recommendations as to specialists/treatment to pursue in the San Francisco area?

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@mdmorell

I had 60% SHL on 9/19, just over 2 weeks ago. I waited, like many others, to see if it would subside – I was travelling at the time for work. Once I got home I had an appt with my PCP who prescribed allergy meds. Not happy with this I made an appt with an ENT who was able to get me on Prednisone at 10 days in. I am now just over a week on this but have gone in steps from 60%-80%-100% deafness in my right ear as of 2 days ago. I don't know if quicker action with Prednisone would have helped or not. Will be going in for an MRI to assess for neuroma soon. I have constant intermittent popping noises and tinnitus in the effected ear. On another note, I went to a Chiro a few days ago who stuck a vibrating gun into my ear canal which really shocked me! Whether it was a coincidence or not later that day I went from 80%-100% deaf! Any thoughts on this?

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@mdmorell Steroid treatment is only effective if given within about 5 days of onset of hearing loss. That statistic comes from an ENT that spoke at one of my HLAA chapter meetings. We will never know if it would have worked in your case but it points out the need for the PCP to understand hearing loss better. As far as your chiropractic treatment, I've never heard of that. It doesn't sound like an effective treatment to me so you may want to ask them for research data. If you find out anything, please share with the group.
Tony in Michigan

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@tonyinmi

@mdmorell Steroid treatment is only effective if given within about 5 days of onset of hearing loss. That statistic comes from an ENT that spoke at one of my HLAA chapter meetings. We will never know if it would have worked in your case but it points out the need for the PCP to understand hearing loss better. As far as your chiropractic treatment, I've never heard of that. It doesn't sound like an effective treatment to me so you may want to ask them for research data. If you find out anything, please share with the group.
Tony in Michigan

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That statistic makes sense. I just hope the mild dizziness that I'm experiencing now goes away with the Steroid. Kind of in the mild depressive mood over my new, lonelier experience – ha! My right ear was the better one, and I really enjoyed singing and playing music in a group atmosphere – and Stereo! Time is being punctuated with hyper-focus on what is being said at work and at home! I hope this doesn't contribute to cognitive decline like I've heard. Also hope I'm a good candidate for Cochlear implant which I'm reading up on, as I don't think I want to get too used to single-side hearing.

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@tonyinmi

@mdmorell Steroid treatment is only effective if given within about 5 days of onset of hearing loss. That statistic comes from an ENT that spoke at one of my HLAA chapter meetings. We will never know if it would have worked in your case but it points out the need for the PCP to understand hearing loss better. As far as your chiropractic treatment, I've never heard of that. It doesn't sound like an effective treatment to me so you may want to ask them for research data. If you find out anything, please share with the group.
Tony in Michigan

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Does anyone know what the subsequent incidence of SHL in the other ear is?

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@tonyinmi

@mdmorell Steroid treatment is only effective if given within about 5 days of onset of hearing loss. That statistic comes from an ENT that spoke at one of my HLAA chapter meetings. We will never know if it would have worked in your case but it points out the need for the PCP to understand hearing loss better. As far as your chiropractic treatment, I've never heard of that. It doesn't sound like an effective treatment to me so you may want to ask them for research data. If you find out anything, please share with the group.
Tony in Michigan

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@tonyinmi

Regarding the chiropractor treatment. I have read of a vibrating gun or wand that you insert in the ear as treatment for tinnitus. It seems to be effective for short term relief…say an hour or so….and the theory is that it is auditory stimulation that can temporarily mask the high pitched tinnitus …something like bone conduction technology. Don’t know if I am explaining that right. Makes sense to me though because the hearing aid that I used to wear in my left ear would mask any tinnitus. Now that I wear the Cros receiver in that ear, the tinnitus is no longer masked. My tinnitus was never a big issue but I do notice it more at night. Amazon actually sells one and maybe it would help with falling asleep. I never actually felt an acute need to buy one.

FL Mary

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@mdmorell

Does anyone know what the subsequent incidence of SHL in the other ear is?

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I had SHL about 4 years ago. Similar experience in Urgent Care where it was diagnosed as blocked eustatcion tube. When I was seen by ENT within two weeks and put on steroids he was very upset with this diagnoses and said all medical personnel should recognize this as a sensineural loss. I am now right eared and do reasonably well with an Oticon cross where I can manipulate sound from my IPhone. From my experience and regular visits with an Audiologists I have been fit with the best device available. It’s a handicap but I remind friends and others that I am right-eared and need to sit in best position. In groups it is still hard and I will ask friends to interpret info for me that I’ve not heard. I’m 89, very fit and I can live with this.

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@mdmorell

I had 60% SHL on 9/19, just over 2 weeks ago. I waited, like many others, to see if it would subside – I was travelling at the time for work. Once I got home I had an appt with my PCP who prescribed allergy meds. Not happy with this I made an appt with an ENT who was able to get me on Prednisone at 10 days in. I am now just over a week on this but have gone in steps from 60%-80%-100% deafness in my right ear as of 2 days ago. I don't know if quicker action with Prednisone would have helped or not. Will be going in for an MRI to assess for neuroma soon. I have constant intermittent popping noises and tinnitus in the effected ear. On another note, I went to a Chiro a few days ago who stuck a vibrating gun into my ear canal which really shocked me! Whether it was a coincidence or not later that day I went from 80%-100% deaf! Any thoughts on this?

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@mdmorell Your experience is generating interest for several reasons. One being that Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL) is not uncommon, but those who experience it have different stories. You say you were traveling. Were you flying? I know several people who experienced SSHL after flying. Years ago, I was told to take antihistamines an hour before boarding a flight. I already had hearing loss, so that advice came from hearing healthcare professionals and other people I knew who had experiences similar to yours.

Up until 1988 when the National Institutes of Health established an institution within to focus on communication disorders, very little research was done in this area. Consequently, it remains relatively new in the medical profession. But there is no excuse for PCPs not to know that when a patient presents with SSHL, immediate treatment is vital. Reality is, they don't seem to get training in this area. They rarely even ask patients about their hearing at annual physicals. I'm venting here a little bit because I feel this is inexcusable.

Emergency room doctors also need to understand this is a problem that merits urgent attention. Steroids will only work if given quickly after the SSHL happens. It's next to impossible to get that treatment because the model for care begins long before treatment by a specialist occurs.

It is unlikely that steroid treatment will have a positive effect when received 10 days after SSHL occurs. It is possible that this could happen to the other ear in the future. The positive side is that you now know it needs immediate treatment. And, you know that protecting the hearing you have is important.

Cochlear implants are an option. Recent research shows that people with SSHL benefit and 'the rules' now allow for insurance coverage for them in this situation.

I always encourage people to join The Hearing Loss Association of America. (HLAA). Why? Because HLAA is the only organization that provides a strong voice for people with hearing loss who wish to remain in the hearing mainstream. We need to let the world know that hearing is important! HLAA recognizes the voids in the system. That includes more education for PCPs and ERPs on situations like yours. It also includes the lack of insurance and Medicare coverage for hearing aids along with the need for people who lose hearing as adults to find answers and be able to talk about it. HLAA is working on all these issues but needs more support from the patients who want to see change. http://www.hearingloss.org

I have never heard of a vibrating instrument used in the ear canal, but it sounds a bit scary. Did it help at all? Did you ask an ENT about it?

Please share more of your story when you can.

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@julieo4

@mdmorell Your experience is generating interest for several reasons. One being that Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL) is not uncommon, but those who experience it have different stories. You say you were traveling. Were you flying? I know several people who experienced SSHL after flying. Years ago, I was told to take antihistamines an hour before boarding a flight. I already had hearing loss, so that advice came from hearing healthcare professionals and other people I knew who had experiences similar to yours.

Up until 1988 when the National Institutes of Health established an institution within to focus on communication disorders, very little research was done in this area. Consequently, it remains relatively new in the medical profession. But there is no excuse for PCPs not to know that when a patient presents with SSHL, immediate treatment is vital. Reality is, they don't seem to get training in this area. They rarely even ask patients about their hearing at annual physicals. I'm venting here a little bit because I feel this is inexcusable.

Emergency room doctors also need to understand this is a problem that merits urgent attention. Steroids will only work if given quickly after the SSHL happens. It's next to impossible to get that treatment because the model for care begins long before treatment by a specialist occurs.

It is unlikely that steroid treatment will have a positive effect when received 10 days after SSHL occurs. It is possible that this could happen to the other ear in the future. The positive side is that you now know it needs immediate treatment. And, you know that protecting the hearing you have is important.

Cochlear implants are an option. Recent research shows that people with SSHL benefit and 'the rules' now allow for insurance coverage for them in this situation.

I always encourage people to join The Hearing Loss Association of America. (HLAA). Why? Because HLAA is the only organization that provides a strong voice for people with hearing loss who wish to remain in the hearing mainstream. We need to let the world know that hearing is important! HLAA recognizes the voids in the system. That includes more education for PCPs and ERPs on situations like yours. It also includes the lack of insurance and Medicare coverage for hearing aids along with the need for people who lose hearing as adults to find answers and be able to talk about it. HLAA is working on all these issues but needs more support from the patients who want to see change. http://www.hearingloss.org

I have never heard of a vibrating instrument used in the ear canal, but it sounds a bit scary. Did it help at all? Did you ask an ENT about it?

Please share more of your story when you can.

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Yes, I flew from TX to Wisconsin. And I noticed an immediate loss of probably half my hearing. But doing lots of traveling for my job I before had instances where I would have muffled hearing for a short time that cleared up. So I just ended up thinking this must be an especially bad case of blockage or infection that I needed to simply wait out.

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@mdmorell

Yes, I flew from TX to Wisconsin. And I noticed an immediate loss of probably half my hearing. But doing lots of traveling for my job I before had instances where I would have muffled hearing for a short time that cleared up. So I just ended up thinking this must be an especially bad case of blockage or infection that I needed to simply wait out.

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I'm sorry you've had that experience. Two friends of mine both had this happen to them when flying. Now both of them have cochlear implants because the loss of hearing was so severe.

We are fortunate to have options to help hearing loss today that were not available to us even a few decades ago. And the technology keeps getting better. It's important to learn all about technologies that can help you.

Are you ready to do that?

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@julieo4

I'm sorry you've had that experience. Two friends of mine both had this happen to them when flying. Now both of them have cochlear implants because the loss of hearing was so severe.

We are fortunate to have options to help hearing loss today that were not available to us even a few decades ago. And the technology keeps getting better. It's important to learn all about technologies that can help you.

Are you ready to do that?

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Yes I am. I don't want to waste much time since my hearing is very important to me. I do like to do my research on what's available so I suppose I'll start with my ENT to find out what would fit my specific need and look for best options. Does anyone know how the Health Insurance companies work with you to line up what works best for you? I'm sure there's a lot of variation out there but if anyone has any current experience on this I'd be interested to know.

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@mtnyankee

I had sudden hearing loss is one ear in 2014. Normal MRI, started steroids 3 days later but it didn't do anything. My question now is that I have gotten used to using one hearing aid but I am wondering if it would be worth it to try the device that would transmit the sound to the hearing aid I hear with. I would appreciate feedback from anyone who has experience using this system after using a single device for so many years. It took me a few years to adjust to one.

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After my sudden sensorineural loss I was fit with Cros by Phonak. After 5 years I was fit with an Oticon Cros which can adjust sound on my IPhone. I am adapting to it and like it. Feeds into the Bluetooth aid and particularly good reducing background noise. These two companies are the only ones to make a Cros as I understand and Oticon offers this adjustable remote on my phone. Phonak does not.

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