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Sudden SensoriNeural Hearing loss Cases Rise Alarmingly In The Age Group 30-60

Delhi: Deafness can be described as hearing loss that may be partial or total. There are different types of hearing loss that occur owing to the problem with the eardrum, middle ear (hearing bones) or inner ear (cochlea and hearing nerve). SensoriNeural Hearing loss (SNHL) is that which occurs at the inner ear. This can occur progressively or suddenly. While sudden SNHL can occur due to certain medications, age, viral infections, a number of times the cause of sudden sensorineural hearing loss is unknown ie idiopathic. The cases of Sudden SensoriNeural Hearing loss (SSNHL) seem to be rising at a rapid rate in the last 6 months. Prompt treatment including medication and cochlear implants can be helpful for the patients.

According to the data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020, approximately 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss and 34 million of these are children. Moreover, by 2050 over 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss. A hearing loss can make a big difference in your life. It can be isolating because there will not be a free-flow of communication.

Dr Ameet Kishore, Sr Consultant ENT, Neuro-Otology & Cochlear Implant surgeon, Apollo spectra Delhi, Nehru enclave, highlighted, “Loud noise can damage your inner ear, making your hearing less acute. Fall on the head, blood supply issues, conditions such as diabetes, viral infections, objects like cotton wool buds, or the corners of the towel can lead to irritation, damage, or infection. Water carries bacteria that cause infections. These untreated infections can lead to permanent damage. Some particular drugs and ageing can also invite hearing loss. Currently, the cases of Sudden SensoriNeural Hearing loss (SSNHL) are commonly seen in adults. SSNHL is a known entity, and often the causes are unknown. There is approximately 30 % increase in the number of adults presenting to us with Sudden Hearing Loss in the last few months, when compared to previous years.”

It is not proven whether the hearing loss is due to the winter season or the presence of Coronavirus or a combination. Not all patients have tested positive for Covid, but some have reported having had the infection. This condition is a medical emergency and can be considered like an ear stroke, and needs to be treated urgently.

Dr Kishore said, “It is vital to diagnose SSNHL at an early stage and treat it with appropriate medication. Also, steroids and injections are given directly into the ear. There is also a role for Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy. But it is proven that treatment is most effective only if started in the first 24 to 48 hours. If there is a delay of even a few weeks the success rate drops significantly. Those who do not recover, or show partial improvement, have to resort to using hearing devices. These are beneficial for those with some good residual hearing. Ones with complete hearing loss can go for cochlear implants to allow them to hear again.”

A cochlear implant is known as an electronic device that can restore useful hearing. It can provide improved communication abilities for children or adults who have severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss (nerve deafness) and who cannot benefit from hearing aids. It offers benefits like hearing speech, environmental sounds, and music. People are able to understand speech without lip-reading and can have interactive conversations over standard and mobile phones. Cochlear implant surgery lasts about two hours and is performed while the patient is under general anaesthesia. Activation of the implant takes place approximately three weeks after implantation after proper healing.

“To prevent hearing loss, do not turn your television or sound system on high volume. Wear ear protectors if you are using noisy equipment such as drills or saws. Take a break from noise at regular intervals. Remove the ear wax properly. Do not go shooting without the proper sort of ear protectors. Explosive noises and can damage your hearing instantly. Ensure good control of diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Get your hearing tested if you encounter difficulty in hearing,” concluded Dr Kishore.

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