Hi Dr. Nagler,
After waking up one morning in December of 2012 with loud buzzing and a numb feeling in my right ear my primary care physician referred me to otolaryngology. In January of 2013 I underwent audiological testing (Air & Bone Conduction Assessment, Speech Recognition, and eardrum testing with ear probe). Was prescribed a regimen of Prednisone for 7 days and returned for follow up the next week. Prednisone was not beneficial. Had MRI to rule out acoustic neuroma; results negative. Diagnosed with unilateral tinnitus and minimal loss of hearing. Doctor told me that the hearing loss was due to the aging process and tinnitus is caused by the hearing loss and that I would adjust to both in time. After a few months the numbness was intermittent; the buzzing/ringing is always there at different levels. In May of 2013 I had an experience in a department store that was frightening; all of a sudden I could hear myself breathing in both ears along with the sound of wind. When attempting to speak my right ear began to vibrate. This attack lasted for about 45 minutes. My doctor said that what I described is pressure and normal for those who have tinnitus. There was no change in my level of hearing afterwards, however these attacks continue to reoccur intermittently and with different variations of sound. In December of 2014 I had my regular 3 month ear cleaning; I told my doctor that the right ear felt really numb and the buzzing was louder and ask if having laryngitis in June, July, and August could have contributed to that. He said no but ordered another hearing exam; there was a slight increase of loss in right ear/left ear continues to be within normal range. On 8/28/2015 I had another attack, the most severe/longest one ever. It began in both ears with a roaring sound followed by hearing myself breathe, popping, wind blowing, buzzing, and vibration when attempting to speak. Afterwards I noticed that I could not hear as well & certain tones were uncomfortable (husband yawning, high pitch music, high pitch speech, voices on television seem to sound like a bad AM radio station or cartoon characters). I was lethargic, neck and back of head aching. My voice was scratchy, but no sore throat. Went to my doctor and again underwent audiological Evaluation which indicated moderate loss of hearing in my right ear and a little loss of hearing in my left ear. Took Prednisone for 7 days, went back for follow up and another hearing test. Prednisone successful and my hearing in the right ear returned to the level prior to the 8/28/15 attack – that was good! However Prednisone was not beneficial for the left ear, instead there was a decreased level of hearing following the 7 days of Prednisone. Though I can hear well from the left ear, the loss is noticeable. My doctor also ordered blood work to rule out Inner Ear Autoimmune Disease; negative results.
I am in my 60’s and aware that Presbycusis occurs in many people as they grow older; my loss was not gradual it overnight. I was not prepared for the SSHL diagnosis; this did happen suddenly but that was in 2012. In 2013 diagnosed with unilateral tinnitus. In 2014 diagnosed with unilateral tinnitus and hearing loss in the right ear. Current diagnosis is: Right ear with Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss, Tinnitus with fluctuating Aural Fullness and Hyperacusis, and mild mixed hearing loss/tinnitus in the left ear.
My question is: Are there other tests or treatments for SSHL and is it too late to save the hearing I currently have? I know that you specialize in tinnitus and hyperacusis; do you also see patients who have SSHL as well? If not are there any specialists in the Macon/Atlanta area that do? Any insight from you would be greatly appreciated.
My apologies for the long post. I really tried to make it short.