Ear Stroke (Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss)

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Sudden severe hearing loss and deafness in one ear are both common symptoms of ear stroke. Ear stroke is also known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss. In as short as three days, the patients will suddenly lose part or all of their hearing ability. Meanwhile, they may experience sudden dizziness, tinnitus and earache. At the initial stage, many people would not take the symptoms seriously as they may think that it is only due to blockage of the ear canals caused by ear wax. Some may even think that the symptoms would disappear after a while, thus delaying the time for medical consultation. In fact, sudden sensorineural hearing loss is considered an emergency situation and the first two weeks after the onset of illness is the golden period for treatment. Once hearing abnormalities are detected, patients should seek medical advice as soon as possible. In the absence of timely and appropriate treatment, it could be difficult for the patients to recover their lost hearing. In the worst case, the condition may even lead to permanent deafness.


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What causes ear stroke?

Ear stroke does not only happen to older people. Basically, everyone has an equal chance in suffering from such a medical condition. The causes of ear stroke remain unknown. However, it is generally caused by viral infections that invade the auditory nerves or the inner ears. For example, both herpes zoster and influenza may lead to sudden hearing loss. Another cause of ear stroke is vascular occlusion, which is similar to a stroke, in which the auditory nerves are damaged due to abnormal blood supply. Some rarer causes include autoimmune disorders, tumours, etc.


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How to diagnose and treat an ear stroke?

Although the actual causes cannot be identified in most clinical cases, doctors usually check the patients' external auditory canals first to rule out the possibility of conditions such as eardrum damage, followed by hearing tests. If the patient's hearing ability on either side shows a hearing loss of 30 decibels (dB) or more in three consecutive frequency tests, he/she will be diagnosed to suffer from sudden hearing loss. 

 The treatment of ear stroke mainly involves prescription of oral steroids which help alleviate inflammation. Antiviral drugs and vasodilators may also be prescribed to improve blood supply to the ears. If the situation remains unresolved, doctors may arrange magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination for the patients to help diagnose whether the sudden ear stroke is a result of tumours. 

Some patients can recover their hearing after receiving drug treatment while some cannot. To increase the chance to be cured, patients with ear strokes must receive treatment as soon as possible. If one has any doubts or symptoms, he/she should arrange a detailed medical examination with ENT specialists as soon as possible.


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How to prevent ear stroke?

A Healthy Lifestyle
  • Patients with chronic illnesses and people with lower immunity are at greater risks of suffering from ear strokes. Good living habits, healthy eating and sufficient sleep are essential to a lower risk of having the disease.

Flu Prevention
  • As some cases are related to flu, paying more attention to flu prevention can reduce the chance of suffering from ear strokes.

Maintaining Emotional Stability
  • Emotional instability can cause imbalances in the regulation of neurohumoral fluid in the body, thereby affecting blood circulation in the ears. Thus, maintaining a calm and peaceful mood and avoiding emotional fluctuations are important.


Last Updated : Jul 2019

Please note that all medical health articles featured on our website have been reviewed by Quality Healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for personal consultation with a qualified health professional on the reader’s medical condition.

Ear Stroke (Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss)

 

 

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Please note that all medical health articles featured on our website have been reviewed by Quality Healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for personal consultation with a qualified health professional on the reader’s medical condition.
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