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SSHL recovery timeframe

at what point does a person with diagnosed SSHL, who has already been treated with oral steroids and tympanic injections of steroids, give up hope of experiencing any further hearing improvement?
244 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi Brenda,
I would say never! I am dealing with the same question. I had SSHL in November. Left ear completely deaf. I was told there was a minimal chance of any recovery. I saw numerous ENT's. The recovery timeframe I heard differed with each doctor & seemed to be based on their personal experience with the few SSHL patients they had cared for. Most people seem to think there is a primary recovery time & a longer term recover time. My ENT's answers to your question have varied from "All recovery will take place in the first month" to "Primary recovery period of 6 months followed by slower recovery up to 18 months". I recovered about 30% of my pure tone hearing at around 6 weeks (moreso in the lower frequencies), then my word discrimination shot up at around 10 weeks. I continue to experience improvement in my daily functioning now at 4 months, although my hearing tests haven't yet shown another "jump" & seem to be fluctuating somewhat. I am confident that I will continue to improve & I really can sense very subtle improvements ocurring continuously. If you would like to discuss this more please contact me! It would be nice to hear from someone who knows what I'm going through. This is tough!
Avatar universal
     thank you for your feedback.  i haven't asked this question of my ent because he has already referred me to his affiliated business which sells expensive hearing aids.  in my mind, there is a conflict of interests in terms of giving me hope for improvement.  
     i, too, lost all my hearing in my left ear back in december and recovered enough over the course of treatment to be considered for a hearing aid.  i don't want to spend money on a hearing aid (like most insurance companies, mine doesn't cover hearing aids) if there is a chance i will gain all or most of my hearing back.  the information you provided was very helpful and encouraging.  like you, i sense that i've improved somewhat in recent weeks, but i'm told we are the worst judges of our own hearing (my ent's mantra).
Avatar universal
I'm glad to hear you have also regained some hearing! How much have you improved?

My low frequencies are between 10-50 dB, but my higher frequencies (hearing test 4 weeks ago) were 60s-80s. Word discrimination is 60-70%. I am still noticing some subtle improvements; throughout the day I will notice noises like a bird chirping and realize I couldn't hear them a few weeks ago.

I also decided to do a course of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which is controversial. I did 20 sessions at 2 atm for 60min each. It was expensive, but I figured it was worth a try. Not sure if the improvements I'm noticing are a result of the hyperbarics or simply the natural healing process.
Avatar universal
Hi there,

I have just come across this forum and it has given me a little boost of hope.

Only 2 weeks ago i lost all hearing in my left ear with SSHL. I was misdiagnosed and it was about 8 days before I started my course of prednisolone. I have 3 days left on my medication but still no hearing in my ear. I currently have no word recognition and only hear buzzing with loud sounds in the affected ear.

My hearing test last week wasn't very encouraging, and i have been told there is only a small change of my hearing improving in the bad ear. I am so confused right now and don't know whether to try to except that i will never hear again in that ear, or to hold on and hope it might improve over the coming months !

I have read so many different opinions on recovery time and when to resign myself to the fact that its permanent. Its all very depressing and I am really struggling right now.

Just reading that you have had some hearing return after 6 weeks gives me hope that I still am in with a chance of getting a little better. Can you tell me what condition your hearing was at week 2 ?

I hope you continue to get better hearing returns for you...

Dave
152264 tn?1280354657
Sorry to hear your story, Dave... that darn misdiagnosis. I was told "wax" and "Eustachian tube dysfunction" and not diagnosed for a month! Too late.

I had no recovery of hearing whatsoever but mine was caused by some traumatic damage, apparently, when I sneezed, so there may have been no hope for me from the beginning.

I would not get your hopes up, but you never know. You can adapt to one-sided hearing loss if it doesn't return, and there are some good solutions for it. I have a Baha (bone-anchored hearing aid) for SSD (single-sided deafness) and it works great, though it has minor drawbacks.
Avatar universal
Hi Nancy,

It seems so many doctors just treat this as a cold or something insignificant! I cant believe there isn't more awareness of SSHL!

I have been looking into the BAHA as it seems like a great option.Have you had the device for long? I do think the ear has got better over the past week, even some speech recognition when its loud enough, so this may mean i will be eligible for a standard hearing aid to amplify sounds instead of the BAHA. I wont have another hearing test for about 8 weeks, so until then I am just hoping each week brings even a little more hearing!

Thanks for your encouragement Nancy, I have really found this week (weeks 4) that i am at last starting to get my life back and the tinnitus is becoming less obvious throughout the day.

Dave
152264 tn?1280354657
Hi Dave. Glad to hear you think you might be recovering some hearing. I hope your next hearing test will confirm some recovery! You will get used to the tinnitus--I was so bummed when I realized mine would be permanent, thinking, "Oh, I'll never get to enjoy the sound of complete silence again..." but that was a laugh, as now I don't even notice the tinnitus unless I think about it! It is loud enough that I can just perceive it over the humming of my computer, but still, it just isn't "there" unless I think about it. Amazing how the brain adapts.

Yes, GPs have NO idea about SHL... I was surprised when I started reading about it and found out it's supposed to be considered a medical emergency. But doctors aren't told that in their training. Most info about hearing loss--even the huge article for doctors on the American Academy of Family Physicians Web site--has NO mention of SHL. You'd think that GPs would have a little book to carry around with sections on different specialties (ENT, neurology, etc.) tagged "this is an emergency," but no. They are SOOOO concerned about possibly permanent deficits from, say, a stroke, so there's this huge stroke-awareness campaign, but possibly permanent hearing deficits are like, "so what?" I saw two different GPs, 5 days and 3 weeks after my hearing loss, and neither of them even bothered to do the tuning-fork test. The first one cleaned the wax out of my ears and ASSUMED the problem was solved--didn't even ask "can you hear better?" Admittedly I was at that time most worried about the dizziness that came with the sneezes, as I myself assumed the hearing loss was just some canal or other "plugged up"--I knew nothing about ears--but the doctors SHOULD have done some initial testing, that was their job!

I've had the Baha for 3 years now. I have an Intenso, but I think there are newer and better models. The Intenso works great for me. Like all hearing aids, I guess, it does cause feedback if I turn it up too high or touch it, but voices come through so clearly it's AMAZING! It's like hearing voices over the radio, but PERFECTLY CLEARLY. It is SO nice not to have to be constantly turning my head, switching sides with people, asking them to repeat, missing things, etc. I don't have to wear it all the time, as I can hear fine in small rooms with a handful of people and no background noise, but at work and in most social situations the Baha is a great help to me.

Good luck and keep us posted! :)
Avatar universal
Hi......just curious what type of treatment you received?  I flew home with a cold and sinus congestion and 14 days later the tinnitus started.   I didn't realize I had suffered low frequency hearing loss until the tinnitus started (which was two weeks after I realized my hearing was off) and the steroids did not work.  I had doctors tell me they had seen this take months to clear up but I am not at 11 weeks and nothing has gotten better....hearing or tinnitus.  To make matters worse I have been deaf in my other ear since the age of 7 so I am really up a creek now......1/2 of one ear for hearing.  I'm scared, sad, angry, anxious and afraid of what the future holds.  Yet all of these ENTs just look at you and say, "You'll have to get used to it."  That is not an acceptable answer for me.  There have got to be more success stories out there.  
Avatar universal
Just got diagnosed this afternoon w/SSHL.  Caught it pretty early, though.  Tuesday my hearing conked out on me suddenly at work (right ear), and I went to an Urgent Care facility.  The LPN had no idea and prescribed a Z-pack for me.  Next day, zero improvement and increased tinnitus - but no pain, correlating to no infection, so why the Z-pack?  Got in to see my PCP, who immediately and intelligently referred me to an ENT.  A few hours later I was choking down 6 prednisone tabs to start the therapy.  I'll probably go to Mass Eye & Ear for a second opinion, just to be sure, but I'm hoping that I caught this early enough to recover.  The stats I'm reading indicate about a 65% recovery (partial or full), and the timing does vary from weeks to over a year.  It's going to be an interesting ride - and a complete bummer to a musc lover like me :(.  Nice to know, though, that I'm not alone out here.  Carpe diem, folks - make lemonade with them lemons!
Avatar universal
I was diagnosed with SSHL in June 2010.  One morning I woke up and my right ear was blocked.  I knew something was not right, because I did not have a cold and it simply did not feel like a sinus blockage.  Went to the Emergency room and they quickly gave me some Prednisone and then I checked in for two weeks (in Europe...realize that this may be unrealistic in America).  After two weeks the doctor ordered I use the Hyperbolic Oxygen chamber.  This was a device similar which Scuba Divers use to decompress.  I did 5 sessions of this at 3 hours each session.  I regained about 50 percent of my hearing...from nothing.  But, now I had some really annoying Tinnitus.  A year went by and there was some improvement.  I would have good days and bad days.  Alot depended on how much rest I had.  I read and read everything I could regarding SSHL.  To me, I would say it was almost like a stroke in my ear.  So, I simply started taking any and all vitamins that promote blood flow, Gingko, Vitamin B, Fish oil.  I take these daily for the last year and now I am FULLY recovered.  I still take the vitamins.  Personally, I feel that SSHL occurs when bloodflow to the inner ear is obstructed for just long enough to cause the loss in hearing.  I am not a doctor, but my hypothesis has proved to be correct...I experimented on myself and now am 100 percent again.  You can recover from SSHL.
152264 tn?1280354657
How's your ear by now?
Avatar universal
I am so happy to have found a place where others are discussing having to deal with SSHL.  I was very ill in December and woke up one morning with deafness in my left ear.  My GP told me it was congestion and to take sudaphed.  After two weeks I couldn't stand it any more and he sent me to the ENT.  Bingo, SSHL.  Went through the prednisone treatment with no improvement.  Unfortunately, I am a professional musician and this situation has left me devastated.  I get horrible headaches after practicing for short periods and hear weird overtones in my head confusing the actual pitches I am hearing.  Not to mention this terrible pressure I feel all the time.  I am horribly depressed, angry and scared about the whole situation.  After reading these posts it seems there still might be some chance of recovery.  It is frightening when your livelihood depends on your hearing...
1740498 tn?1328962585
Hi and welcome to the Hearing Loss community.

I am so sorry to hear about your SSHL. Have you looked into surgical options? I wonder if you could pursue the Cochlear BAHA, Med-El Vibrant Soundbridge, or a cochlear implant?

Sounds like you are dealing with tinnitus as well as hearing loss. That is unfortunately common with sensorineural damage.

I can imagine how hard this loss would be. Have you considered visiting with a psychologist or taking medication to help you get through this change?

BC
Avatar universal
Hi

   Thank you so much for sharing your amzaing story .. i also have been in the same situation ..been diagnosed with SSHL for right ear .. Althought my hearing loss is mild .. I am planning to take the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy ..
and will post my outcome .

Also wondering how were you able to reduce tinittus ..? Did you make a full recovery from tinittus ? Pls share any thoughts regarding this ..
Avatar universal
I have just suffered SSHL, i am not completely deaf but do have a hissing noise in the ear, in quiet environments it is ok to live with but in noisy environments it irritates the ear and the hissing noise, i certainly would not go to a concert at the moment.

Have you experienced the hissing noise and if so has that got better over time?

Gerard
Avatar universal
I have just suffered SSHL, i am not completely deaf but do have a hissing noise in the ear, in quiet environments it is ok to live with but in noisy environments it irritates the ear and the hissing noise, i certainly would not go to a concert at the moment.

Have you experienced the hissing noise and if so has that got better over time?

Gerard
1740498 tn?1328962585
Gerard,

Hi and welcome to the Hearing Loss community. It's nice to meet you.

So sorry to hear about your tinnitus. When did you develop hearing loss and tinnitus? Do you know what caused it? Did the doctor try any medications (maybe steroids?), and how did you respond to them?

That helps predict how things will go for you. Everyone is so different that it is hard to compare experiences. There are so many causes of tinnitus and hearing loss.

In the meanwhile, how are you handling the hearing loss?

Take care,

BC
Avatar universal
Thanks for your message,

I went swimming and had water in my ear so thought that was the cause, went to the doctor and he gave me ear drops, back again after two weeks and gave me nose spray as he thought the tube from my nose to the ear was blocked, two weeks later asked doctor to send me to ENT which he did. They carried out an ear test and diagnosed SSHL, started on steroids, been on them for seven days but the noise in my ear has got worse and when i am in a noisy environment i get a resonating in my deaf ear and the side of my head. I have had a MRI scan and blood test and get the results tomorrow, finding it all hard to deal with.

Have you had SSHL yourself, and have you improved/had any treatment??

Regards,

Gerard
1740498 tn?1328962585
How crazy! I can imagine that would be overwhelming.

I have mild hearing loss and tinnitus, but mine fluctuates and is on the mend right now. Mine is neurological, however--the hearing nerve or brain stem rather than the middle ear or inner ear. I have multiple sclerosis.

I hope you feel better soon!

BC
Avatar universal
I too have just been diagnosed with SSHL.  Its two weeks out with no improvement.  Blood work normal MRI normal.  This site give me hope that maybe i can regain some hearing.  Nice to know i am not alone
Avatar universal
I was just diagnosed 2  weeks ago. I have been taking Prednisone and have had 2 shots in the ear. I am starting to hear some faint noises. I was wondering how others are doing and if the hyperbaric treatment helps.
Thanks
Avatar universal
Looks like I just joined a group of confused, angry, people.  I too have been diagnosed with SHL.  Now I am confused, angry and hoping that my hearing comes back also.  

Last week I laid down to take a nap and woke up with no hearing in my right ear.  The buzzing is awful.  Non stop.  I did go to urgent care the next morning and received a steroid shot and the next week made it to the ENT.  Still, the news is not favorable.  I think what irritates me the most, is that my husband had to call about 8 ENTs to get me into one in a timely fashion.  By then it would have been a month or longer.  

Why don't the ENTs make it an effort to treat this urgently.  We are all angry and confused when this first happens.

ShirleyH
152264 tn?1280354657
I am very surprised you had trouble getting into an ENT quickly, if you made very clear to them that it was a SUDDEN hearing loss. ENTs should know that is an otological emergency. At least it used to be so considered; I'm not sure whether that has changed due to the lack of success and knowledge in treating it. (Supposedly 90 percent of cases remain without a known cause.) Still, I'm shocked you had to call that many.

Good luck--hope you get your hearing back. If not, Baha has been a good solution for me.
Avatar universal
Shirley
I and to go to a second ent to get aggressive treatment. I went to a local urgent care and they miss diagnosed. I went to my Dr. they just gave me antibiotics. 2 days later I did get into a local PA ENT. She diagnosed it correctly but just gave me a low dose of prednisone. I decided to get a second opinion and fortunately I did get into a top ENT. She was great and gave me both shots and a higher dose of prednisone. She also suggested taking zinc. It's been 4wks now and I have recovered a good portion of my hearing. Unfortunately I still have the tinnitus. I was fortunate to aggressively try to get the right treatment. Most folks aren't that fortunate.
Good luck!
1 Comments
How much Zinc was recommended. I just found this site.  I recently was diagnosed
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