The Causes and Treatments for Temporary Hearing Loss

There are many causes of temporary hearing loss, and some can be more serious than others. Taking appropriate precautions is the only way to prevent or avoid a potentially life-changing event in your future.

It is important to understand how your body responds when it's exposed to loud sounds for an extended period of time. Your ears will attempt to protect themselves by tightening and constricting the muscles that lead from the eardrum to your inner ear, which makes it harder for them to vibrate properly with sound waves. This leads to symptoms such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus), feeling pressure on one side of your head (aural fullness or pulsatile tinnitus), sudden deafness, dizziness, nausea, and headaches.

Temporary Hearing Loss

The most important thing to remember about temporary hearing loss is that it's not permanent! Whether you're experiencing short-term or long-term effects from too many decibels, following the simple techniques below can help you protect your hearing.

Causes of Temporary Hearing Loss

Temporary hearing loss is usually caused by exposure to loud noise. This can be anything from a concert to running a lawn mower for an extended period of time without ear protection. The louder the sound that reaches your ears, the more likely you are to experience temporary hearing loss as the damage occurs very quickly even though it's only temporary.

The 2 types of temporary hearing loss are:

Sensorineural – this is damage to the inner ear and can be either permanent or temporary depending on how long exposure lasts.

Palpable – this kind of hearing loss isn't visible, but you will experience muffled sounds and a slight ringing in your ears. This type usually occurs from short-term exposure to loud noises and often goes away within 24 hours.

Palpable hearing loss is usually the result of tiny amounts of fluid building up in your middle ear and causing pressure on the eardrum.

Tinnitus – many people have experienced temporary ringing in the ears (tinnitus) after being exposed to loud noises or sonic booms. This usually goes away within hours to days as the fluid drains from the ear into the throat or nose.

Tinnitus can be both a symptom and cause of hearing loss. It is believed that tinnitus may be caused by abnormal activity in the nerve cells of your inner ear following injury to the cochlea, auditory nerve, or brainstem.

Tinnitus may also be caused by a build-up of fluid in the middle ear. The fluid that builds up in the middle ear after travel, swimming, or diving sometimes produces tinnitus.

If you have been exposed to loud noise then you should seek medical attention immediately if any of these symptoms develop:

  • Hearing loss (either sudden or progressive)
  • Sudden onset of tinnitus
  • Unusual and or continuous noise in the ear
  • Pulsatile tinnitus (pulsing-like sounds)
  • Severe hearing loss, pain in the ear, or dizziness.

Be sure to let your physician know if you have been exposed to any of these things or are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above.

Tips for Temporary Hearing Loss

If you just have a temporary hearing loss, then there are some steps that you can take to speed healing and reduce any problems with your hearing:

Put something warm against your ear (be sure not to burn yourself)

Don't use drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, vitamins or fish oil unless your physician tells you to

Try to avoid loud sounds and noises if your ear is already damaged by something like an explosion.

Avoid stressful situations that could lead to high blood pressure. Your heart needs help pumping blood after the blast of an explosion. The stress will only make things worse.

These actions will help greatly in your recovery.

Treatments for Temporary Hearing Loss

If the temporary hearing loss is lasting longer than a couple of days, then you should go to visit your doctor and find out what causes it.

Also, unlike other ear problems that get better on their own, a persistent or recurring hearing problem could be an indication of something more serious so don't delay in getting treatment.

If the hearing loss is due to an infection, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics to help clear up any ear problems.

If there is a buildup of fluid in the middle ear or ear canal, your dentist can use suction to remove it using a small instrument called an Ear Wash Cup. This may need to be repeated until the fluid is gone, as it will keep returning until the cause of the excess fluid has been removed.

Depending on your doctor's advice and findings, other treatments may also be required such as:

Ear Drops to Soothe an Irritated Ear

A change in diet to eliminate foods that are known to cause allergies. Even a temporary food allergy can cause fluid to accumulate in the ear.

Test for Allergies

Skin prick testing involves pricking your skin with small amounts of known allergens such as dust mites, grass or pollen and observing any reactions. Allergy blood tests measure the levels of IgE antibodies in your body and indicate whether you are more or less likely to suffer from allergies. An allergist can help determine what triggers your symptoms and ways to prevent them.

Treatment for underlying infections such as diabetes, hepatitis, HIV disease, shingles, or other conditions that cause fluid retention.

Antibiotics to treat bacterial infections of the ear canal.

If you have a fungal infection, your doctor may prescribe antifungal drops and/or other medications.

Prevention of Temporary Hearing Loss

Build up your resistance to infections by eating foods that boost your immune system, getting enough sleep, and managing stress. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs, especially if you have a weak immune system or stay near other people who smoke.

If you have allergies, avoid whatever triggers your symptoms. Install air filters to help control house dust mites, which can be a major irritant for some people.

If you're exposed to loud noise every day — such as engine noise, lawnmowers, or music at clubs and concerts — take steps to prevent hearing loss. If your work involves loud sounds, wear ear protection devices specifically designed to filter out damaging frequencies or use earplugs.

Since many people with Lyme disease suffer from multiple symptoms, you may have to try several treatments before finding one that relieves your hearing loss and other symptoms. If home remedies or over-the-counter medications don't help, talk with your doctor about stronger prescription drugs.

Last Word

This Article has explored the causes and treatments for temporary hearing loss. We hope you have a better understanding of this issue now, and that we've helped to answer some of your questions about it. If you feel like there's more information out there on this topic you'd like us to cover or if anything in this article wasn't clear enough, please let us know!