Sudden hearing loss can be a frightening condition for the sufferer. Characterised by an unexpected, unexplained drop in hearing that affects one or both ears, it can happen to anyone at any age.

Sudden hearing loss may also occur alongside tinnitus. Boots Hearingcare recommend that you consult a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect that you’re experiencing sudden hearing loss. If symptoms persist for an extended period, hearing aids can provide effective relief…

Causes of sudden hearing loss

The exact cause of sudden hearing loss is unknown. Although we do know that circulation in the inner ear is reduced during sudden hearing loss, resulting in impairment.
Sudden hearing loss affects different people differently, with so many potential factors in play. The most common causes of sudden hearing loss include: Because the causes of sudden hearing loss are so varied, it’s imperative you see a doctor, or an ENT specialist, as soon as possible to determine the exact reason(s) for the onset of this condition.

Sudden hearing loss symptoms

As implied, the symptoms of sudden hearing loss can come on unexpectedly – or develop over a few hours or days, possibly increasing in severity. People usually notice it when they first wake up or are in the middle of a conversation; listen to music or take an important phone call. Loud popping has been noted as a precursor to sudden hearing loss.
Some common symptoms of sudden hearing loss include:
  • Feeling of full or pressure in the affected ear(s)
  • Dizziness – usually accompanied by problems with balance
  • Loss of sensation in the outer ear
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Any signs of these should be reported to a doctor or audiologist as soon as possible, to ensure effective diagnosis and treatment.


Your doctor or a trained audiologist can confirm a diagnosis of sudden hearing loss.

Don’t delay – seek medical help if you suspect that you’re suffering from sudden hearing loss, especially if additional symptoms are present. We offer a health check to see how your hearing is. We can then advise further treatment options for you.


In certain instances, sudden hearing loss can lead to longer-lasting symptoms. These include:
  • Permanent hearing loss in the affected ear(s)
  • The onset and development of tinnitus
It's important that you get medical attention for sudden hearing loss right away in order to stand a chance of preventing such complications from arising.

Treatment for sudden hearing loss

How sudden hearing loss is treated depends upon the identification of underlying causes, which is always on a case by case basis. Thankfully, there are plenty of treatment options, including:
  • A course of steroids to help reduce any inflammation or swelling that could be causing the condition
  • Antibiotics if the underlying cause is determined to be a bacterial infection
  • Alternative medication if your current medicine(s) are the cause of the problem
  • Hearing aids, if the problem is particularly severe
  • Lifestyle changes focused on reducing certain risk factors associated with sudden hearing loss – such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes
Just keep in mind that the earlier you start treatment for sudden hearing loss, the better the prognosis will be. Certain cases have been known to resolve themselves after a few weeks, but there’s no point in taking the risk. You should seek treatment as early as possible, as this will almost certainly increase the likelihood of recovery.

Frequently asked questions

Is sudden hearing loss permanent?
Every case of sudden hearing loss is different, and each person must address their own situation on an individual basis. It may or may not keep getting slowly worse; it all depends on the underlying cause or causes. Some instances see your hearing return to normal; however, others can result in permanent hearing loss in the affected ear. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to successful treatment.
What can cause sudden hearing loss in one ear?
Sudden hearing loss in one ear is rare and can be caused by all the factors discussed above. Remember, though, that any sudden changes to your hearing shouldn’t be ignored. No matter how minor, always seek medical care for sudden hearing loss immediately.
Is sudden hearing loss a medical emergency?
If you’re experiencing any kind of sudden hearing loss, treat it as a medical emergency and get checked out as quickly as possible – particularly when there’s no obvious cause.

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