The earlier you start treatment, the better the prognosis. In a best-case scenario, you can see an ENT specialist within the first 24 hours of noticing signs of a hearing issue and get help right away. Treatment involves stimulation of the inner ear’s circulation and the elimination of possible triggers. Other forms on treatment include the following:
The administration of circulation-enhancing (rheological) medication
In the event of sudden hearing loss, the inner ear’s blood circulation is reduced or impaired. Blood supplies the inner ear with the required nutrients. If circulation is inhibited, the sensory hair cells of the ear are permanently damaged. Circulation can be improved with the administration of circulation-enhancing medication, which can also include cortisone to prevent any swelling (anti-edema treatment).
Local anesthesia to block inhibited nerves
The local anesthetics procaine and lidocaine are frequently used to treat sudden hearing loss (inotropic therapy). Their administration blocks nerves that potentially lead to vascular constriction. This treatment should always occur under a doctor’s clinical observation.
Sudden hearing loss causes permanent damage to the sensory and hair cells, potentially leading to permanent hearing impairment. Persistent hearing loss, combined with tinnitus, should be treated with hearing aids that can generate a soft noise to distract the individual experiencing tinnitus symptoms. This function is referred to as a ‘noiser’ and is ideal for very quiet hearing environments.
Oxygen pressure chamber
Another option is hyperbaric oxygen therapy (treatment in an oxygen pressure chamber). This is a good method of treatment, but according to the criteria of evidence-based medicine, it may not be the most effective.
Treatment for particularly severe cases
Dialysis (apheresis) is another treatment option if the sudden loss of hearing is particularly severe. In technical terms, this procedure is called heparin-induced extracorporeal LDL precipitation (H.E.L.P.) apheresis, whereby the blood is cleansed of coagulation-promoting substances. This improves blood flow characteristics and circulation. Severe cases require inpatient treatment; outpatient treatment by a specialist is usually possible.
Treatment in the event of obesity and diabetes
Treating risk factors for arteriosclerosis (the build-up of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls) is extremely important in the long run. Lifestyle changes that can facilitate treatment include: weight loss combined with a low-fat diet and exercise, the correct adjustment of blood sugar levels, and avoiding nicotine, coffee and alcohol. Implementing these changes is imperative for effective treatment.
Alternative forms of treatment are available. However, their effectiveness has not been proven, and traditional health care has, in some cases, rejected them.