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rockfan's avatar

Could this be signs of "sudden hearing loss"?

Asked by rockfan (3188 points ) February 10th, 2014

For the past eight years, I’ve had a problem with ear congestion, and 3 or 4 years ago I noticed my hearing was diminishing. And since last year, my ears have been faintly ringing. And now a few months ago, my entire left ear will go deaf while I’m in the shower, and I have to put pressure against my ear to regain my hearing. Is this normal when people have hearing loss? Could I be going deaf?

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10 Answers

keobooks's avatar

Most audiologists will give you a free hearing test with no strings attached. They will not only check your hearing, but check for things like earwax, damage or disease that might cause hearing loss. I suggest you go make an appointment with an audiologist. It’s kind of fun, btw.

pleiades's avatar

Sometimes I hear a sound similar to a TV from the 90s that has been on for hours (that powering off sound) and my ear goes numb.(ok not numb but blank)

rockfan's avatar

@pleiades By numb, do you mean deaf?

rockfan's avatar

Because that’s the sound that I hear too. How old are you?

keobooks's avatar

Arghh. I read my post and I should have mentioned that the audiologists that provide this service work for hearing aid distributers. They do the free test so that you’ll be more likely to buy a hearing aid from them on the spot rather than shopping around.

hearkat's avatar

Yes, @keobooks; most “free” hearing tests are very rudimentary.

I am an Audiologist, and we typically bill the health insurance for a comprehensive diagnostic audiological evaluation, which not only measures the hearing levels, but determines the type of loss. Depending on the patient’s insurance policy, a referral from their primary caregiver may be required.

The blockage in the shower and relief after you apply pressure suggests to me that you have a build-up of ear wax. Therefore, I suggest checking with your primary doctor and getting a referral to an Ear, Nose and throat specialist. Ensure that your ears are clear and healthy in order for the audiology exam to be performed. When you schedule with the ENT, explain that you want the doctor to check your ears first, but that you’d also like to have the hearing evaluated the same day, once the doctor clears you.

With a name like @rockfan, is it safe to assume that you’ve been exposed to loud sound over the years? Noise damage is permanent and cumulative. Noise damage to the inner ear is highly correlated with tinnitus; but it occurs in many people as they lose their hearing. Current research suggests that tinnitus in the presence of hearing loss is similar to ‘phantom limb’ phenomena (for example, when someone loses an arm, but can still ‘feel’ their fingers) because the ear isn’t sending sounds that the auditory nervous system is expecting to receive.

I do recommend that you follow through with the audiological evaluation even if it does turn out to be occluding wax and the issue resolves after removal, because it will be good to know whether you do have some degree of hearing deficit, and to discuss your sound exposure and what your options are to protect your ears from further damage.

JLeslie's avatar

Sounds like it could be your eustacian tube. Chewing gum might help keep it open. If you have any sort of sinus drip or have had a lot of colds or general congestion the area might be slightly inflammed. I had mire or less what you described for about 5–6 years. Sometimes I could barely hear for a few days straight. It happened after I had had a long bout of strep throat. It finally went away after years.

It wouldn’t hurt to get a hearing test and a quick check, maybe remove some wax if it is built up. If you already have hearing loss according to the tests it might motivate you to protect your hearing better, which is a good idea, I wish I had done it more when I was young. I almost always have earplus in my purse. I use them in zumba, movie theatres, dance clubs, planes, and many other places.

If you want a hearing test I would just go straight to an ENT who has the equipment to test hearing. I never get a referral as @hearkat mentioned I just go to a specialist, but my insurance doesn’t require referrals. Why waste your money on a visit to a GP? They can’t do a hearing test. Maybe they can remove wax I don’t know. When I had the problem I never went to an ENT, but I obviously don’t know if your problem is really the same as mine. You don’t want to play with your hearing if something might really be wrong, seeing a specialist can reassure you and provide you with useful information.

hearkat's avatar

@rockfan – Have your symptoms resolved? Dis you go have someone look at your ears?

rockfan's avatar

@hearkat

Went to a doctor a month ago and turned out it was my eustachian tube. I’ve been taking a nasal spray everyday and the pain in my ear has resolved. My hearing is still slightly muffled though.

hearkat's avatar

@rockfan – It can take up-to 2 months for it to fully resolve. Using the spray consistently is the key. I’m glad that it’s improving!

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