Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden hearing loss is relatively common. The patient goes to bed and awakes with very loud tinnitus (ear noise) and partial to complete hearing loss in the affected ear. There may or may not be associated vertigo (dizziness). The hearing loss may be partial or complete in the affected ear.

Dr. Shea's first job is to rule out tumor or Meniere's Disease. After these workups are negative, idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSHL) becomes the diagnosis.

Doctors disagree about the cause of sudden hearing loss (ISSHL). Whenever doctors disagree about the cause of a problem, you can be sure that there is disagreement about treatment.

Most patients are told that their hearing 'may or may not come back', , and are placed on a corticosteroid such as Prednisone. Some are placed on an antiviral drug such as Valtrex or Zovirax. Doctors do not disagree about this: one third of patients will get all their hearing back without treatment, one third will get absolutely no hearing recovery and one third will get partial recovery.

At Shea Center For Ears, a patient with SHL undergoes studies to rule out the (unlikely) possibility of a tumor. Once a tumor is ruled out, the Center evaluates the patient as a potential candidate for dexamethasone perfusion of the inner ear (DMP).

Dexamethasone (a powerful corticosteroid) can, early after a sudden hearing loss, enhance the chance of full or partial recovery of hearing.

Dr. Shea and Shea Center offer patients with SHL an innovative Dexamethasone delivery system: make a small opening in the eardrum and place concentrated dexamethasone behind the eardrum (as a kind of extended eardrop).

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