Swedish News Blog

Sudden Hearing Loss - What causes it, and what you should know

Claire Kilcoyne, Au.D.

Sudden hearing loss is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention. As the name suggests, there is typically no warning, nor is there any way to predict who is at risk. Sudden hearing loss affects about 4000 new cases per year in the United States. It can affect one or both ears. Tinnitus and a feeling of fullness in the ear(s) often accompany the hearing loss.

In all cases, each patient needs to be seen by both an Audiologist and an ENT/Otologist. After taking a history and looking in the patient’s ears to assure that there is no wax causing the problem; a battery of audiometric tests is performed. The purpose of the testing is to determine the degree of the hearing loss and also to determine whether the sudden loss is due to malfunction of the hearing nerve or a problem in the middle ear. Hearing loss due to a problem in the hearing nerve or cochlea is called “sensorineural” and a loss that is caused by a problem in the middle ear is called “conductive.” You can also have a combination of the two, which is called a “mixed loss”. Different medical treatments are used for each of these types of hearing loss.

 

After the hearing testing is completed, and it is determined that the patient has sensorineural hearing loss, the patient is seen by the Physician for assessment and a treatment plan. Treatment often involves steroids, either taken orally or via an injection through the eardrum or both. This treatment is often repeated. During that time, it is important to have serial audiograms to follow any possible changes in hearing thresholds and/or speech discrimination ability.

What is the cause of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL)?

It can be caused ....

What you should know about your risk of falling if you have hearing loss

Merrill Hill

According to studies in Archives of Internal Medicine, the risk of falling is increased by 40% with every 10dB loss of hearing. Although this information has been researched and speculated for some time, it becomes crucial for us to consider this trend when we know people with hearing loss. This is especially important for our seniors.

How does hearing impact our balance?

It is speculated that our nervous system (specifically, the brain’s pathways) interact in such a way that one may experience “incident falls.” There are pathways which are believed to be responsible for encoding auditory and spatial information for our environmental awareness. Also, it is believed that there are pathways which incorporate auditory input into cognition and attention. To put it another way; hearing loss reduces our ability to take advantage of the auditory cues needed for knowing critical information about our surroundings. Therefore, we may fall and/or stumble more often.

As a result of a ...

What is an audiologist?

Kristiina Huckabay, AuD, FAAA

An audiologist is a master’s or doctoral level trained professional who evaluates, treats and manages hearing and balance disorders in children and adults. Audiologist work in a variety of settings such as medical centers, private practice clinics, universities, schools, Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) physician clinics, Veteran’s Administration and military settings.

At Swedish, you will find caring and talented audiologists with a wealth of clinical experiences. The audiologists at Swedish have experience with infant through geriatric diagnostic hearing evaluations, auditory evoked potentials, vestibular evaluations, tinnitus management and the selection and fitting of hearing aids. Additionally, audiologists work closely with surgeons to complete the fitting and programming of osseo-integrated devices, cochlear implants and brainstem implants following surgery.

Because most hearing issues are not medically treatable, most individuals with hearing loss work...

Swedish to Host Live Stream of Woman’s First Time Hearing in Five Years, Plus Live Text Chats

Swedish News

CochlearImplantMrsDay.jpgSEATTLE, Oct. 9, 2012 - On Tuesday, Oct. 2, Eleanor Day, 79, underwent a cochlear implant procedure at Swedish/Cherry Hill by Dr. Douglas Backous, medical director of the Center for Hearing and Skull Base Surgery. Her procedure was the world’s first live-instagrammed and live-tweeted cochlear implant (hearing restoration) surgery (click here to see a recap). This Wednesday, Oct. 10, Swedish will live stream Mrs. Day’s cochlear implant activation, in which she will potentially hear her husband’s voice without the help of hearing aids for the first time in five years. The Days have been married for 60 years.

Watch Mrs. Day's cochlear implant activation - live!

Dana Lewis

Dana Lewis
Digital Media & Internal Communications | Swedish Blog Administrator

Many people joined us last week to see Mrs. Day's cochlear implant surgery live-tweeted and Instagrammed. (You can click here to view a recap and see the pictures from Instagram.)

One of my favorite parts of the event was seeing the many thoughtful tweets & notes were sent in support of Mr. & Mrs. Day:

Some of the most frequently asked questions we received during the event were:

  1. Why are you doing this? (Answer - read this blog post, and watch this video to learn more about the inspiration behind the #SwedishHear web series.)

  2. Are you livestreaming Mrs. Day's cochlear implant activation?

We weren't originally planning to livestream the activation like we've done livestreams before - instead, we planned to host two, text-based live chats so people could type and read questions and engage directly with Dr. Backous, Stacey Watson (Mrs. Day's audiologist), and Karen Utter (President, Hearing Loss Association of Washington State).

Now we're doing both!

If you tune in....

Live-tweeting and Instagram Cochlear Implant/Hearing Restoration Surgery on October 2, 2012

Dana Lewis

Dana Lewis
Digital Media & Internal Communications | Swedish Blog Administrator

You may have seen a post (Forbes) or two (CNET) in your various newsfeeds recently about the fact the Swedish is live-tweeting and Instagramming a cochlear implant (hearing restoration) surgery tomorrow, on October 2, 2012. (Check it out at www.swedish.org/swedishhear.)

A question we've gotten is why live-tweet or Instagram a surgery? Haven't you done that already? (Yes, we've used Twitter and video before (to educate patients about deep brain stimulation and knee replacement procedures, among others), but not Instagram.)

We're learning from our patients how hard it is to access information if you are deaf or have hearing loss, and, per a study in The Lancet, how this impacts the quality of healthcare. And so we decided to create additional resources to help raise awareness about the option of cochlear implants. (In this Mashable postDr. Backous said only 10% of people who qualify for cochlear implants end up receiving them.)

Here's an example of one of the many stories that inspired this series:

(For closed captioning press the CC button located in the middle of the action bar that appears at the bottom of the video when it is playing. For the best results, watch the video in full screen by pressing the full screen button located in the right hand corner of the action bar.)

People with hearing loss are not able to call on the phone to get more information or ask questions, so we decided to document via text (tweets) and images (Instagram photos) the cochlear implant procedure.

We're also hosting two text-based chats next Wednesday on October 10, 2012 (at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Pacific Time). The chats will enable patients and interested viewers to talk directly via the chat (text based - no audio) to Dr. Backous, audiologists, patients who have had the procedure, and patient advocacy groups. If you have unanswered questions about hearing loss or cochlear implants, we hope you'll join us for the discussion. (You can ...

(Click 'read more' to see a full recap from the live event)

Swedish to Host World’s First Live-Instagrammed, Live-Tweeted Hearing Restoration Surgery as Part of Month-Long Educational Web Series on Hearing Loss

Swedish News

SEATTLE, Sept. 26, 2012 - Swedish Medical Center and Douglas Backous, M.D., medical director of the Center for Hearing and Skull Base Surgery at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, will host the world’s first live-instagrammed and live-tweeted cochlear implant (hearing restoration) surgery on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 7 a.m. Pacific Time (PT).

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