Sudden Hearing Loss Could Indicate Problems with Your Heart or Brain
When we think of hearing loss, we tend to imagine a long, slow process. Honestly, this is the most common hearing loss we see. However, sudden hearing loss does happen, and recent evidence has shed light on how it occurs, and what to do when it happens.
What Is Sudden Hearing Loss?
Imagine suddenly losing your hearing! The feelings of fear, anxiety and confusion would be upsetting, and the importance of your hearing would be highlighted in a very big way.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), commonly known as sudden deafness refers to the rapid loss of hearing. The process occurs either all at once, or it can transpire over several days.
Studies have looked at the relationship between certain risk factors and sudden hearing loss. Some important ones are:
- Heavy smoking
- Alcohol consumption
- Thromboembolic events (blockages in blood vessels like a stroke or heart attack)
But even though the exact relationship between sudden hearing loss and vascular disease (disease of the blood vessels primarily to the brain and heart) is not understood fully, recent evidence underscores a connection, which you should know about.
If you experience sudden hearing loss your audiologist should consider you at increased risk for developing a stroke or heart disease
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, February 2018 looked at the question of whether sudden sensorineural hearing loss was associated with vascular disease of the brain and heart.
The findings were clear; sudden hearing loss is associated with a significant increase in diseases of the vessels of the brain and the heart.
In fact, in the 11-year follow-up period, patients with sudden hearing loss had over two times the chance of having vascular diseases of the heart and brain.
It’s not exactly clear how this happens, but it seems that the blood flow to the inner ear is affected. When the flow is reduced to the inner ear, the sounds we hear are not effectively converted and sent to the brain for processing, causing sensorineural hearing loss.
Sudden hearing loss is a warning sign that both you and your audiologist should not ignore. If you or a loved one experience sudden hearing loss, you may be at increased risk of developing problems with the heart or brain, and more specifically stroke.
At Vail Valley Hearing Center, we check ongoing research efforts constantly, so we can ensure that as these connections and correlations are discovered, we can deliver the highest quality of care to our patients, not only with regard to hearing, but health overall.
If you or someone you know has experienced sudden hearing loss, please come in and see us. We can determine whether follow-up care is a good idea.