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What would you do if you woke up one morning and couldn’t hear out of one ear?  Dr. Donald Bennett says it’s important to not dismiss the condition. If the right diagnosis and treatment isn’t administered right away, the hearing loss may be permanent.

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Dr. Donald Bennett, an ENT physician at Midwest ENT & Allergy, says it’s important to not dismiss the condition. It may be sudden deafness, an unexplained loss of hearing either all at once, or over of few days, because there is something wrong with the sensory organs of the inner ear. If the right diagnosis and treatment isn’t administered right away, the hearing loss may be permanent.

“Sudden deafness is rare and scary,” said Dr. Bennett. “It usually only affects one ear. And, like the condition suggests, it comes on suddenly. People with sudden deafness report waking up not hearing in one ear and sometimes experience spinning or ringing in the ear. Others may first notice when they put their phone up to their deafened ear and can’t hear.”

According to the National Institute of Deafness, sudden deafness strikes between one and six people per 5000 every year, but the actual number of new cases could be much higher because sudden deafness often goes undiagnosed. Sudden deafness can happen to people at any age, but most often affect adults in their late 40’s and early 50’s.

“Sometimes people who have experienced sudden deafness put off seeing a doctor because they think it is due to allergies, or a sinus infection, or fluid behind the ear.”

However, Dr. Bennett says identifying the condition early and receiving the right diagnosis with a formal treatment plan is the key. “Consider sudden deafness symptoms a medical emergency and seek care immediately,” said Dr. Bennett.

Regaining lost hearing begins with the right diagnosis.

Dr. Bennett refers to the clinical axiom declaring that “common things are common” which is true for conditions such as fluid behind the ear drum, but keeping a high level of suspicion for something more rare such as sudden nerve hearing loss is key. “For sudden deafness a hearing test is essential in measuring sound levels and making the diagnosis.”

“Patients who receive a quick and correct diagnosis can be treated with steroids. The medication should be used as soon as possible for the best results. Receiving timely treatment greatly increases the chance that patients will recover at least some of their hearing.”

Though little is known about the cause of most cases of sudden deafness (only about 10% of people diagnosed have an identifiable cause), one thing that is known is the sooner the treatment, the better. According to the National Institute of Deafness, about half of people with sudden deafness recover some or all of their hearing spontaneously within one or two weeks of onset.

“The window gets smaller the longer an individual waits to get treatment,” said Dr. Bennett. “Waiting three or four weeks can be too late. Typically hearing will not return. However, with the right treatments as soon as possible, you have a good chance at recovering most, if not all, your lost hearing.

Hearing professionals believe hearing is your most important sense because it connects you to the world and is very important to your overall health and happiness.

If you experience sudden hearing loss, or any other hearing problems, don’t delay. Contact the expert team of physicians and audiologists at Midwest ENT & Allergy for diagnosis and treatment.

by Virginia Olson, Sioux Falls Woman Magazine



Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat
2315 West 57th Street  •  Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57108  •  605-336-3503  •  Toll-free 888-336-3503  •  Fax 605-336-6010