Having sudden problems with your hearing can be scary, especially if you don’t know if it’s permanent. However, there are many reasons for temporary hearing loss, and most cases clear up after a few days. However, it’s vital that you seek treatment so your hearing loss does not worsen or become permanent. Here are some reasons you might be experiencing hearing loss, and what to do about it.
Causes of Temporary Hearing Loss
Temporary hearing loss can occur after a loud concert, or crop up out of nowhere. Depending on the cause of your hearing loss, you might require care immediately to avoid permanent hearing loss. Other cases might clear up on their own, with no intervention from a doctor. However, you should see a doctor or audiologist regardless, just to make sure your ears aren’t seriously affected.
Common causes of temporary hearing loss include:
- Middle ear infections. Otitis media refers to an infection of the middle ear, which can seriously impair your hearing. It often occurs on one side, but both ears can be affected. Fluid from the infection blocks your middle ear, making it difficult to hear clearly, if at all.
- Blocked ear canals. If your earwax has built up inside your ear, called impacted earwax, it can cause temporary hearing loss until the blockage is removed. Earwax blockages should always be handled by medical professionals, not ear candlers or family members. Foreign objects stuck inside the ear can also cause temporary hearing loss.
- Head trauma. If you’ve recently been in a car accident, sports incident, or other situation where you experienced head trauma, you might have temporary hearing loss. It is vital that you visit a doctor to have the head trauma and hearing loss checked out.
- Exposure to loud noise. While noise exposure can lead to sensorineural hearing loss over time, it can also result in sudden sensorineural hearing loss. This often occurs after loud concerts, gun shows, or sports events. If you’re experiencing noise-induced hearing loss, you need to rest your ears and visit a doctor.
- Swimmer’s ear. Technically an ear infection, swimmer’s ear often occurs after a day at the beach or lakefront. It can cause temporary hearing loss and can be cleared up easily with antibiotics.
- Ototoxic medications. Certain medications, including malaria treatments, loop diuretics, chemotherapy, aspirin, and some erectile dysfunction medications can cause temporary hearing loss. You might need to switch medications until this issue is resolved.
How to Treat Temporary Hearing Loss
Sometimes, temporary hearing loss will clear up on its own. However, it is best if you go to the doctor to get the problem diagnosed and examined. Depending on the cause of your hearing loss, your doctor might have different ideas for treatment. They might advise you to rest or administer medication to help clear up any infections. Common treatments for temporary hearing loss include:
- Silence. If you’ve recently been exposed to loud noises, silence is the most important thing. If you keep listening to loud noises and don’t sufficiently rest your ears, you could end up with serious permanent damage.
- Antibiotics. If your problem lies with an infection, you need to take some antibiotics and clear up the infection in your ears. Then, the fluid will drain and you should hear normally again.
- Stop ototoxic medications. If you’re taking medications that are impairing your hearing, your doctor might ask that you stop taking them and switch to a different treatment. After that your hearing should improve.
- Remove blockages. If you have a foreign object in your ear or impacted earwax, you need to have this blockage removed. Until then, you will likely continue experiencing temporary conductive hearing loss. Never try to remove foreign objects yourself, and only trust medical professionals with your ears.
Symptoms of Temporary Hearing Loss
The signs of temporary hearing loss are fairly straightforward. They include:
- Loss of hearing in one or both ears. This hearing loss may be mild to profound.
- Tinnitus. This is a constant ringing, humming, or roaring in your ears. It can occur in one or both ears and might affect your ability to sleep and relax.
- Feeling of fullness in the ear. This can be unpleasant and might feel like a constant pressure in the ear. It is often caused by fluid buildup or blockages.
- Have issues hearing certain voices and sounds (women’s voices, consonants, children’s voices). Certain frequencies can become difficult to hear if you’re suffering from hearing loss. Oftentimes, sounds on the higher end of the frequency are lost first.
- Difficulty following conversations, especially in groups. You might feel lost in conversation, and struggle to differentiate between words and background noise.
- Dizziness. Your ears play a serious part in your balance system. When the delicate organs in the inner ear are affected, you can feel dizzy or unbalanced.
How Long Does Temporary Hearing Loss Last?
This depends on what’s causing it. Temporary hearing loss can last less than a day, or a few days. If it doesn’t go away quickly, you should visit a doctor for treatment. If your temporary hearing loss is caused by something, like an infection or blockage, you need to seek treatment to clear up the issue before it worsens. It’s important that you don’t try to “wait out” your sudden hearing loss. Only doctors, ENTs, and audiologists can examine the issue and prevent permanent damage. If left unchecked, temporary hearing loss can become permanent hearing loss.
How To Prevent Temporary Hearing Loss
You can prevent temporary hearing loss by protecting your hearing. This can involve earplugs, regularly getting your ears cleaned, and avoiding ototoxic medications. The most important aspect of preventing hearing loss is avoiding loud noise. While concerts and other events can be fun, they can also do serious damage to your inner ears. Once the damage is done, it cannot be repaired. You only have one set of ears, so it’s vital that you take care of them. You can protect your ears from noise exposure by:
- Wearing earplugs. You don’t have to avoid things like car shows, gun ranges, concerts, and sports games. You just have to wear protection when you go. Make sure to buy a pair of earplugs before you attend these events, and consider investing in a fitted, reusable pair.
- Limit your time at parties and clubs. Loud music is a menace to your ears, and while parties and clubs are very fun, they can deal some serious damage. Depending on the decibel volume, you should limit your time at these places to an hour or two. After that, you should move your fun to a quieter location.
- Take rests. Your ears need breaks, too. If you’ve had a long day, attended a loud event, or just feel a bit exhausted by noise, don’t turn on the television or put on some music. Just enjoy the silence and rest your ears.
If you want more information on other forms of hearing loss, or aural health in general, we’ve got you covered. Signia Hearing aims to put out thorough, accessible articles on a wide range of hearing topics. We have a library of blog posts for you to go through, and we put out new articles every week. To stay updated as we add to our library, subscribe to the Signia newsletter.