It happened out of nowhere and with absolutely no warning. I woke up to feeling like my ear was stuffed and I was not hearing normal. I automatically cast it off as allergies, took a decongestant, and went to church. The pressure was more irritating than painful and continued throughout the day. It felt as if I had been swimming and had water in the back of my ear; plugging it up. But in fact, I had not been swimming and could not think of anything I had done to cause the condition.
Monday I woke up and things had progressively gotten worse. At this point I was hearing buzzing noises too. I started getting a bit alarmed because my dad suffered from sudden hearing loss a few years ago. But I am in my 40’s. This couldn’t be happening to me, could it? But what if it is? On Tuesday when I woke up and still could not hear from my right ear I decided I had to get an appointment and be seen–just in case.
I went to my primary care physician and he said that there was an infection in that ear. He had heard of loosing eye sight suddenly, but never sudden hearing loss. I told him that this same thing happened to my dad and my aunt. He did give me a referral to an Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialist to rule out any worries of sudden hearing loss. He also gave me a steroid shot, which was the best thing he could have done.
I drove over to the ENT and they had an audiologist give me a complete hearing test. There it was confirmed, I was hearing 35% less out of my right ear. When my ENT doctor walked in the first thing she said was, “Your doctor was really smart by sending you directly here today, usually people wait too long and loose their hearing permanently.”
I cannot stress this more…we have to be our own advocates when receiving medical care. So many people with SSHL are just sent home with antibiotics. It is far better to rule out any concerns than go through the rest of life with hearing loss.
With SSHL there is what is called the “Golden Hour” to receive treatment. If it has been past 72 hours (three days) from the onset, then there is a huge chance that the lost hearing will not come back. Many people just think they have allergies and it will clear up on its own. This is not the case if it is SSHL.
I pushed for the correct testing and saw the right kind of doctor, which may have saved my hearing. My hope is with the steroid treatments I will again regain full hearing in my right ear. We are all our own best advocates and there is that little voice inside that should not be ignored. It is ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry. I hope my story may one day save someone else’s hearing.
Please share the graphic I put together to help spread SSHL/SHL awareness.
Read more about Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss here.