As humans, most of us are lucky enough to be born with five functioning senses. Eyesight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste work together to help your brain perceive the world around you and bring richness to your life. Remove one suddenly and it can have a distressing and life-changing impact, even if only temporarily.
Unfortunately, temporary sensorineural and conductive hearing loss is not uncommon and can affect people of all ages. Hearing loss often happens over a prolonged period, whereas with most cases of temporary hearing loss, it is likely that the hearing loss will take place over a short period of time.
If you experience mild hearing loss or notice a change in your hearing, it is important to get it checked out and determine the cause. Let’s take a look at the six common causes of temporary hearing loss and what you can do to treat it.
1. Exposure to Loud Noises
Have you ever stood in the front row of a concert and later found that your ears feel blocked? Maybe you have visited a shooting range and felt a slight ringing in one ear? These are all perfect examples of how minimal exposure to loud noises can leave you with sudden and temporary hearing loss.
To understand what happens, we have to go deeper into the ear canal. Deep within your ears, you will find tiny hairs called stereocilia. These hairs pick up sound waves and send the signals on their way to your brain. These hairs, however, can be damaged by exposure to loud noises, which can leave you with temporary hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss from noise exposure is known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
When it comes to this form of temporary hearing loss, prevention is the best treatment. Next time you know that you will be exposed to loud noises, it is a good idea to wear hearing protection.
2. Middle Ear Infection
These fluid-filled infections generally only affect one ear by putting pressure on the structures of the ear that are important in hearing. This can temporarily impact your hearing and even leave you with a painful earache. These types of ear infections are particularly common in children.
In the most severe cases, the pressure can cause the eardrum to rupture. Although this is painful, your eardrum will eventually heal itself and your hearing will return to normal once the infection has cleared up.
Like most infections, it is a good idea to contact your doctor and ask for medication that will help clear up your ear infection. Once the infection goes, your hearing should return to normal.
3. Ear Canal Blockage
There aren’t many feelings more uncomfortable and frustrating than a blocked ear. Ear canal blockages can be caused by any item or substance that becomes lodged in your ear. However, the most common cause of a blocked ear canal is wax or cerumen. When earwax becomes stuck, it is known as impacted earwax.
Earwax is designed to clean and protect your ears before falling out naturally. When earwax becomes impacted, it can suddenly hinder your ability to hear and is a form of conductive hearing loss.
The best treatment for an ear canal blockage is to see your doctor or pharmacist. Your doctor or pharmacist should be able to safely remove any blockage or provide you with medicines that can help remove the earwax. Once the blockage is removed, your hearing should immediately return to normal.
4. Swimmer’s Ear
If you feel like your ears feel blocked, itchy or painful after a recent swim or visit to the pool, you could likely have an outer ear infection known as swimmer’s ear. This generally occurs when not all the water has been removed from your ear and causes an infection.
This ear infection can quickly cause temporary hearing loss and, therefore, should be treated with antibiotics that you can get from a medical professional. Once the infection clears, your hearing should return to normal. Some people are more susceptible to these forms of ear infections and therefore, it is important to ensure you remove all the water from your ear the next time you go swimming.
5. Head Trauma
If you have been involved in any sports accident, car crash, or situation that has resulted in you experiencing head trauma, you can experience temporary and sudden hearing loss.
There could be a range of reasons that the head trauma has affected your hearing and it is vital that you seek medical help and get it checked out.
6. Ototoxic Medications
Certain types of medications like aspirin, loop diuretics, chemotherapy, and many more can cause temporary and sudden hearing loss through ototoxicity. Ototoxicity is simply ear poisoning that damages the inner ear or vestibular-cochlear nerve.
If you have just started taking a new form of medication and suddenly begin to notice a change in your hearing ability it is important to let your doctor know. If you stop the treatment or find an alternative medication, your hearing should return to normal.
Changes to your hearing can be scary. Whether it happens overnight or your hearing loss occurs over several years, it is vital to be on top of it as soon as possible by contacting a doctor or hearing specialist. Whether it is temporary or permanent hearing loss, there is a range of treatments or hearing solutions that will help you enjoy life to the fullest and continue enjoying the sounds around you.
Jesse Hidalgo is the founder of Hearing Group and an experienced hearing specialist. Jesse is passionate about providing the best hearing solutions for anyone who is impacted by hearing loss.