A 28-year-old office worker called Hsiao Ching (a pseudomyn), who would always watch soaps wearing headphones and stay up into the night, suddenly experienced a loss of hearing in her left ear and went to see the doctor. The doc diagnosed her condition as sudden deafness. Fortunately, as she had immediately sought medical attention her hearing has now returned to 80 percent of its former level, thanks to a course of steroids and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
Hsiao Ching, who has a lot of pressure at work, watches soaps and dramas to help her relax. She has always got her headphones on, when she’s commuting or in the evenings after she gets off work, and always has her eyes glued to the screen, engrossed in the plotlines of her favorite TV dramas. Recently, however, when she was watching a program, she couldn’t hear anything in her left ear, and changing her earphones made no difference. She went to the emergency department.
According to Chang Chia-chen, a doctor in the ear, nose and throat department of the Luodong Bo-ai Hospital, sudden hearing loss has many possible causes, including stress, viral infection, auto-immune disorders, medications, trauma, hormones, clogged arteries or tumors, and it is important for the patient to seek medical attention in the immediate aftermath of the onset of symptoms, preferably within 3 days of discovering an irregularity in one’s hearing, and to start receiving treatment within two weeks of the onset. If there is a delay before seeking medical attention, it will have a serious impact on the chances of having a full recovery.
Photo: Chiang Chih-hsiung, Liberty Times
Sudden hearing loss is mostly treated using steroids, supplemented by HBOT. The steroids can be administered orally or through injection, either into the ear or intravenously. If steroids are administered within two weeks of the onset of the symptoms the prognosis is very good; if this treatment is supplemented by HBOT, the hearing of around three-quarters of patients shows a clear improvement.
Chang says that young people under long-term stress and who are often tired and stay up late are particularly vulnerable to sudden hearing loss. Anyone feeling that their hearing has been affected on one side, or if they suddenly start experiencing tinnitus or dizziness, should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If they are diagnosed as having sudden hearing loss, in addition to receiving medical treatment, they should also endeavor to adjust their lifestyle, and to get the proper amount of rest and sleep, to ensure that the symptoms do not return.
(Translated by Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)
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