Sudden hearing loss or sudden deafness

Sudden hearing loss or also known as sudden deafness is defined as a sensorineural hearing loss of more than 30 dB in three or more consecutive frequencies that occurred in less than 72 hours. Many patients notice hearing loss instantly upon waking in the morning, others notice it simply within hours. Loss severity varies from one patient to another and usually affect only one ear.

Associated with hearing loss, patients usually present tinnitus (noise in the ear) and up to 40% have vertigo.



Sudden hearing loss is estimated to occur in 5-20 per 100,000 people / year, accounting for 1% of all sensorineural hearing loss. It occurs in the same proportion in men and in women, it can affect any age, but the most frequent age of presentation is from 40 years.


Causes of sudden hearing loss

There are many causes associated with sudden hearing loss, including:

o Infections
o Vascular problems
o Cochlear hydrops
o Masses
o Trauma
o Metabolic disorders
o Hematological changes
o Neurological disorders
o Immune disorders
o Toxic
o Idiopathic (cause unknown). For this, different theories have been postulated, such as:

1. Labyrinthitis of viral origin
2. Labyrinthitis due to vascular compromise
3. Immune-mediated inner ear disease
4. Rupture of intracochlear membranes

Unfortunately in most cases (70%) and despite an exhaustive search for possible causes, none are found.



The diagnostic evaluation begins with a complete clinical history in search of antecedents that allow us to orient a possible cause. The physical examination includes otoscopy in which we can rule out transmissible causes such as a wax plug or serous otitis media. Tests such as acumetrics, impedanciometry and, most important of all, tonal audiometry, confirm sensorineural hearing loss.

Additional information can be provided by logoaudiometry, Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) and brainstem auditory evoked potentials (PEACT).

Complementary tests: blood tests are usually carried out in order to diagnose systemic diseases of metabolic, autoimmune origin, or of infectious origin such as syphilis or Lyme disease, as suspected.

It is also recommended to request a cranial MRI in order to rule out an acoustic neuroma (benign tumor that usually manifests with hearing loss) present in 2% of cases.


Treatment of sudden hearing loss

Since in most cases a cause is not found, the treatment of this pathology remains controversial. On the other hand, it has been seen that approximately a third of patients recover their hearing spontaneously. 

It is recommended to start treatment as soon as possible once it is diagnosed and the response to it is variable.

Among the most widely accepted treatments given their efficacy are: systemic corticosteroids at high doses, intratympanic corticosteroids alone or in association with systemic corticosteroids and as a rescue in case of not obtaining a favorable response. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has also been shown to be effective, especially when started in the first 6 weeks after the onset of symptoms.



There are several factors that favor hearing recovery, such as age, patients under 15 years of age and those over 65 have a worse prognosis, as well as a delay in the start of treatment, severity of hearing loss, association of other symptoms such as vertigo.

Finally, the patient should be followed for at least 12 months with audiometric controls and in the event of partial recovery or no recovery of hearing, the benefits of prosthetic or implant adaptation can be considered.




Is wearing your face covered making hearing problems more obvious and urgent?

Reports from around the world suggest that the need for treatment and solutions for hearing loss is increasingly evident now that people with hearing problems wear facemasks to protect themselves against infections caused by the coronavirus pandemic. .

 Many people with hearing loss refrain from presenting their hearing problems until many years after they have developed them, learning coping mechanisms such as lip reading to get ahead or hide their secret. But masks - now essential due to the pandemic - eliminate visual signals, affect the range of tones of speech and muffle the volume of sound, which greatly increases the difficulties of the interlocutors, especially those who have hearing difficulties. And even transparent masks still pose some degree of difficulty for the lip reader.

A leading audiologist from Cork, Ireland, told his town newspaper, The Echo, that people who hide their hearing loss have been forced to seek for help. Shane McMahon, chief audiologist at the city's South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital (SIVUH), reported a steady increase in visits, while all other specialty departments at SIVUH were seeing a decline.

"People in these situations tend to isolate themselves anyway because they find it very difficult to hear in group conversations. People with hearing problems used a lot of lip reading and speech, but the masks took all that away," he said. McMahon to The Echo.

"Before that, hearing loss was at the bottom of the hierarchy for them. The pandemic meant that they could no longer delay doing something about it," continued this specialist, urging anyone experiencing hearing loss to See your GP to avoid impaired cognitive function.

In United States
Similar stories have surfaced this winter in Greenville, Carolina (USA), the local television news program WYFF reports how hearing specialists in the USA say they have seen an increase in visits from people like the local nurse from Greenville, Teri Wheat, whose hearing loss became urgent and more obvious because she has had to wear a mask and face shield at work.

Andrea Gohmert, director of the hearing clinic at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders at the University of Texas at Dallas, is also quoted: "Most likely there are people who had some type of hearing loss before all this started, but they had been adapted. "

For her part, Catherine Palmer, director of audiology for the Western Pennsylvania Healthcare System, UPMC, stated: "We would have seen these people over time, but it could have been quite a few years from now."

Across the east coast of the US, the Massachusetts channel WPRI reports that Dr. Dola Conceicao, an audiologist at Rhode Island Hospital, has noticed a "different population" of referred patients than in previous years. "Social distancing keeps us from getting close to the person speaking, and masks can also muffle what is being said," says Dr. Conceicao.

"There's an old saying, 'I can't hear anything without my glasses,' and there's actually a lot of truth in it," said Dr. Conceicao. "Covid has definitely put some barriers to people who really need lip-reading gestures to understand what's being said and has really led them to seek care much earlier."


Fuente: EchoLive; WYFF; WPRI

Web: (Traducción por J.L.F.)


Despite how important it is to listen correctly, it is alarming how little attention we pay to reviewing our hearing health with a professional. Most of us have never had a hearing screening, not even with our GP.

According to data provided by the (WHO), in the world there are approximately 350 million people with hearing problems, which translates into 5.3% of the total world population. In Spain it is estimated around 3 million Spaniards suffer from hearing loss, which is equal to 8% of the national population.

Although currently the vast majority of hearing problems can have a solution, in Spain there are few affected people who remedy this problem.

The negative effects on our health, by not treating a hearing loss in time are quite serious both physically and psychologically.

These could include social isolation, communication problems, depression, stress, muscle tension, high blood pressure, headaches, vertigo, etc.

It is important to have your hearing checked with a professional at least once a year.



An early diagnosis can save you from more serious complications in the future. Here are some recommendations to take care of your hearing:

1- Hygiene: it is very important to carry out good external ear hygiene, in that way we can prevent infections or wax plugs.
2- Noise: do not expose yourself to excessive noise. If you work in a noisy environment, make sure you always use anti-noise earplugs, which are specially designed for this type of environment.
3- Headphones: Pay attention to the volume! Too high volume can cause irreparable damage.
4- Be attentive to any sign of hearing loss: if you notice that you do not understand voices clearly, you have to make a big effort to hear or your friends complain about the volume of the TV, do not let the time goes by and go to a Hearing specialist.


From Auditec we want to let you know the latest advance made by the GN Resound group in its new family of ONE hearing aids. By means of new calculations
it offers to enhance our understanding of the difficulties that communication with masks presents.


"Program for masks" by ReSound ONE.

ReSound, the leading brand in hearing innovation, has presented its new «Mask Program» at the EUHA 2020 Digital Congress. This is a new functionality with which hearing aids make it easier for people who use them to understand the conversation when, due to the new reality imposed by the coronavirus, they must communicate with others who wear masks. High frequencies have been shown
to be attenuated when wearing a mask, making consonants sound muffled. In addition, people with hearing difficulties can no longer rely on lip reading,
which made it easier for 30% of the understanding of anyone's voice. This new “Mask Program” is one of ReSound's many recent technological innovations to
help the hearing impaired in times of social isolation.

Hearing professionals can now adjust their hearing aid settings to compensate for sound distortions caused by face masks.

People with hearing loss can take advantage of this new program with ReSound ONE, the hearing aid that provides the most individualized listening experiences.
Based on ReSound's organic hearing philosophy, this new technology enables
people to hear in the most natural way.


Each person is a world

Each person is a world and lives and hears in his world, therefore, what is natural for one person is not for another, and as it is the brain that hears and that assigns or recognizes as "natural" sounds it receives, we must make it easier for the brain to function naturally.

The latest discoveries in the field of auditory brain processing have differentiated two working subsystems in the auditory cortex:

- the orientation subsystem that receives all the information of the sound environment sent by both ears and can create a complete perspective, a sound map of everything around it.

- the focus subsystem that helps us select the sounds we want to hear and filter and attenuate those that are not relevant at all times.

The cochlea of ​​a normal ear receives all sounds and breaks them down into their different frequencies. In the organ of Corti, the neural code is generated that contains all the information received from the sound world of our environment and sends it to the auditory cortex.

The first subsystem, the orientation subsystem, combines all the information to create a vision of all the sound objects and begins to separate one from the other. In this way it facilitates the later task of deciding what to focus on, what to listen to.

The focus subsystem uses all of that information and chooses what to focus on and when to change the object of your attention, while filtering out irrelevant sounds that make your listening skills extremely difficult, especially in noisy environments.

However, in people with hearing loss, this does not work. The brain cannot process the entire sound scene as it does not receive sound signals of intensity lower than its hearing threshold and to compensate for this, we adapt the hearing aids, although not all work in the same way.

Conventional hearing aids use directionality to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, but suppress a large part of the sound scene by not providing sufficient amplification of the side and rear sounds. Traditional compression adds comfort, but distorts the sound signal and thus makes it difficult for the brain to obtain the best information from the speech cues, without reducing enough listening effort.

The result is that these hearing aids do not allow the brain to process the sound signal naturally, nor to generate an adequate neural code.

How the auditory process works in the brain

The neural code is crucial to make sense of sounds

When sounds reach the inner ear, they become the neural information code within the cochlea. The auditory nerve carries this neural code to the auditory center of the brain, also known as the auditory cortex.

Within the auditory cortex, these neural codes become meaningful sound objects on which the orientation and focus subsystems can work.


 At Oticon we are aware that it is the brain that hears and we know how to help it because we have been designing and manufacturing hearing aids for more than 20 years based on our "BrainHearing" philosophy, elaborated and evolved thanks to the research of our Eriksholm laboratory and with the collaboration of different universities.

And thanks to that evolution and the results of the latest published research on the auditory system and its relationship to the cognitive system, we know that the time has come to have a new perspective on how to help the brain to have a complete sound scene so that it can process sound naturally.

OticonOpn S hearing aids, thanks to OpenSoundNavigator, SpeechGuard and OpenSoundOptimizer, provide access to sounds in the 360o of space, balancing the amplification applied to the sound source of noise and speech so that the user is aware of the sound environment, but always prioritizing he talks about noise. They attenuate diffuse noise, even between words, do not compress the speech signal and can provide the necessary amplification at each moment of the day as they prevent the appearance of feedback.

For this reason, our hearing aids provide the user's auditory cortex with an adequate neural code so that they can orient themselves in the sound space and focus on the sound of their interest and, thanks to the maintenance of their selective attention capacity, the user of these hearing aids can switch from one interlocutor to another more easily and participate in meetings in a similar way to normal hearing, avoiding social isolation and reducing the risk of Alzheimer's or cognitive impairment.

A limited sound scene can turn a hearing problem into a problem for the brain and we already know what the consequences of untreated or inadequately treated hearing loss are:

- Greater listening effort.

- Increased cognitive load.

- Reorganization of brain functions.

- Acceleration of cognitive decline.

- Acceleration of the decrease in