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Causes of sudden hearing loss

How to manage sudden hearing loss and the causes of sudden hearing loss.

Causes of sudden hearing loss

Sudden hearing loss, also known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL), was first identified a century ago, but its diagnosis and how to manage it and the causes of sudden hearing loss remains a bit of an enigma.

Among the many possible sudden hearing loss causes are:

  • Viral infections. One in four patients with SSNHL reports sufferering from an upper respiratory infection within a month before the hearing loss. Viruses associated with sudden hearing loss include mumps, measles, rubella, as well as meningitis, syphilis and AIDS, among many others.
  • Tumours. A variety of tumours in the ear, benign as well as malignant, may cause SSNHL.
  • Head trauma affecting hair cells, eardrum or bones. Partial or total recovery from head injury induced hearing loss can be expected.
  • Drugs and insecticides. A long list of prescription drugs and chronic abuse of painkillers may cause sudden hearing loss. Insecticides such as melathion and methoxychlor have been associated with sudden hearing loss in both ears (binaural sudden hearing loss).
  • Immunological disorders.
  • Vascular disorders disrupting blood flow to the ear.
  • Developmental abnormalities.
  • Idiopathic disorders, such as multiple schlerosis, Meuniere's disease and others.

Source: Hearing Review, December 2003, Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss special issue.

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