Sudden Hearing Loss In One Ear: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Sudden Hearing Loss In One Ear: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Experiencing sudden hearing loss in one ear can be both surprising and scary. Your familiar world of sound might appear irreversibly transformed in a matter of minutes or hours. 

While the actual reason for such dramatic hearing changes is frequently unknown, addressing the probable underlying disorders and receiving prompt medical attention can considerably improve results.

Causes of Sudden Hearing Loss In One Ear

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL), commonly known as sudden deafness, results from damage to the inner ear components. Often, people wake up to discover they have lost hearing in one ear, or they realize it after attempting to use the afflicted ear, such as making a phone conversation. 

This syndrome can occur instantaneously or over several days. While the actual explanation is frequently unknown, several circumstances might contribute to this disturbing phenomenon, as mentioned in the following section.

Possible Causes

Sudden hearing loss should not be overlooked because it may indicate underlying health concerns. Here are a few probable triggers:

  • Viral Infections: Diseases such as mumps, measles, and even a severe case of the flu can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss.
  • Immune Disorders: Autoimmune illnesses, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, can damage the delicate components of the inner ear, causing hearing loss.
  • If the blood supply to the ear is compromised due to blood circulation issues or a stroke, abrupt hearing loss may occur.
  • Ototoxic therapies: Some medicines, such as particular antibiotics or chemotherapy therapies, can induce abrupt hearing loss.
  • Trauma: A severe head injury can damage the inner ear or the auditory nerve, resulting in permanent hearing loss in certain circumstances.
  • Acoustic Neuroma: This benign tumor affects the nerve that connects the brain to the ear and can cause abrupt hearing loss.

Risk Factors

Aside from the reasons listed above, the following risk factors enhance the likelihood of sudden hearing loss in one ear:

  • Aging: Although unexpected hearing loss can occur at any age, it is more common in individuals in their forties and fifties.
  • Previous Hearing Problems: People with a history of hearing problems may be at higher risk.
  • Certain Medical Conditions: Meniere’s illness, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes all increase the chance of unexpected hearing loss.

Treatment For Sudden Hearing Loss

When dealing with sudden hearing loss, prompt action is critical. If you or a loved one are experiencing this, get emergency medical treatment. The course of treatment will vary according to the underlying cause.

  • Corticosteroids: They are frequently the first line of therapy because they help decrease inflammation and swelling, allowing the nerves in the damaged area to recuperate.
  • Antiviral Medication: If a viral infection is detected, antiviral medications are administered.
  • Vasodilators: These medications enhance blood flow to the inner ear, which may assist if insufficient circulation is causing hearing loss.
  • Removing Earwax: If impacted earwax is recognized as the cause, a doctor can remove it, and hearing usually improves immediately.
  • Change in Medication: If ototoxic medicines are causing the problem, your doctor may recommend stopping the prescription or switching to a different one.


While it is not always possible to avoid sudden hearing loss in one ear, there are a few preventative measures that can lessen the total risk:

  • Regular Hearing Exams: Early detection can make a big difference in effective hearing loss therapy.
  • Avoid Loud Noises: Overexposure to loud sounds can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. When required, utilize ear protection, such as noise-canceling headphones.
  • Control Chronic Conditions: If you have a condition that increases your risk, such as diabetes, you should treat it under the supervision of your healthcare professional.
  • Mind Meds: Avoid ototoxic drugs when alternatives are available, and only take them as advised when essential.


Sudden hearing loss in one ear can be confusing and frightening. But the more you learn about it, the more prepared you will be. If you detect a change in your hearing, don’t dismiss it as a little inconvenience. 

Contact healthcare providers very once and thoroughly describe your symptoms to establish the reason and begin the most effective therapy as soon as possible.

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Dr. Kimberly Langdon

Kimberly Langdon

Dr. Kimberly Langdon has been an MD for 31 years, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place accolades for her Senior Research Project and Score of 98th percentile on a National Proficiency Test.

During her clinical career, she delivered over 2000 babies and specialized in minimally invasive procedures, menopause, endometriosis, menstrual disorders, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. After retiring from clinical practice, she founded a medical device company to commercialize her two patented and four patent-pending medical devices for both life-threatening and non-life-threatening infections.

Kimberly Langdon M.D.

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Coologics, 2010-present
The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine 1987-1991
The Ohio State University Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program 1991-1995
Private practice 1995-2010

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., received his medical doctorate from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. During his medical school training, Dr. Hsu worked with various patients, including adult and pediatric patients with acute and chronic conditions. Dr. Hsu’s interests include neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics, and sleep medicine.

Before medical school, Dr. Hsu finished a master’s degree at Harvard University and wrote a thesis on neuroimaging in schizophrenia patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospital. Dr. Hsu was also a part of the 2008 NASA Phoenix Lander Mission team, which sent a robotic spacecraft to the North polar region of Mars. Dr. Hsu also had research experience on neuroimaging in neonates at Boston Children’s Hospital, another Harvard Medical School-affiliated Hospital.

Since graduating from medical school, Dr. Hsu has worked as a full-time medical writer and consultant. In addition, he has experience writing and ghostwriting books and articles for physicians and health technology start-up companies. Dr. Hsu believes good communication between healthcare providers and patients creates the best results.


-Peer Reviewed Journal Article:
Kounaves, S.P., Hecht, M.H., West, S.J., Morookian, J.-M., Young, S.M.M., Quinn, R., Grunthaner, P., Wen, X., Weilert, M., Cable, C.A., Fisher, A., Gospodinova, K., Kapit, J., Stroble, S., Hsu, P.-C., Clark, B.C., Ming, D.W. and Smith, P.H. The MECA wet chemistry laboratory on the 2007 phoenix mars scout Lander. Journal of Geophysical Research. 2009, Mar; 114(E3): 10.1029/2008je003084.

-Poster Presentation:
2011 Harvard Psychiatry Mysell Poster Session; Boston, MA
Hsu, P.C., Rathi, Y., Eckbo, R., Nestor, P., Niznikiewicz, M., Thompson, E., Kubicki, M., Shenton, M.E. (March, 2011). Two-Tensor Diffusion Tensor Imaging of Acoustic Radiations in Schizophrenia

Dr. Nicolette Natale

Nicolette Natale

Dr. Nicolette Natale is a physician, with a background in Psychology, General Medicine, and English Literature, combining her expertise to provide readers with the most accurate, easy-to-understand, and comprehensive information regarding healthcare. She received her Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University, and her bachelor’s in English Literature and Psychology from the University of Miami. Dr. Natale seeks to empower individuals with knowledge, fostering a greater understanding of holistic health and encouraging a proactive approach to well-being