Hard of hearing and sudden deafness

Hard of hearing and sudden deafness

There was a lady who was hard of hearing. She had rather severe inflammation and pus in her right ear that smelled foul. She may or may not have realized that her right ear smelled foul since I did not ask her, and she did not visit the ear doctor to treat the ear infection. However, she seemed to be able to hear some sound with her right pus-filled ear judging from the way she would lean forwards to the right to get closer to the sound source rather than shifting position and turning her head and her left ear towards the sound source. This hardness of hearing then should still have been treatable.

On page 1106 of The Merck Manual of Medical Information it says: “Sudden deafness is severe hearing loss, usually in only one ear, that develops over a period of a few hours or less.”

“Less commonly, strenuous activities such as weight lifting place severe pressure on the inner ear, damaging it and resulting in sudden or fluctuating hearing loss and vertigo. An explosive sound may be heard in the affected ear when the damage first occurs.”

“Usually, the hearing loss is severe. However, most people completely recover their hearing, usually within 10 to 14 days, and others partially recover it. Tinnitus and vertigo may accompany sudden deafness. Vertigo usually subsides in several days, but tinnitus often persists.

“No treatment has proved to be valuable. Corticosteroids by mouth are frequently prescribed, but bed rest is usually advised. In certain cases, surgical procedures may be useful.”

I say:

If an explosive sound is heard in the affected ear when damage first occurred, the resulting tinnitus will most likely be permanent.

If one knows the cause of sudden deafness, one can generally remedy the deafness without using any corticosteroids since there is no pain involved, and surgical procedures should not be required for sudden deafness unless there is physical damage to the ear, like a loud explosion that has damaged the ear drums, the cochlea, the auditory nerves, or combat injury of one side of the face and skull.

The description of “sudden deafness” found on page 1106 of the Merck Manual of Medical Information does not mention one of the most common causes of “sudden deafness”: sudden deafness brought on by the accumulation of hardened and deeply entrenched ear wax and fluid in the ear. If there is a gurgling sound in the ears when one blows the nose or when one swallows saliva, then there is moisture and fluid in the ears. Fluid in the ears is indicated by a slushing sound when one presses the soft spot at the top of the jaw bone right below the triangular protuberance of the outer ear.

Moisture in the air, humidity, barometric pressure, swimming, showering and frequent hair washing without covering the ears all contribute to the accumulation of moisture in the ear. Everyone who has ever taken an airplane has had sudden deafness in both ears due to rapidly changing cabin air pressure. Anyone who has ever driven from Reno, Nevada, to San Francisco, California, on Interstate 80 across Donner Summit and Immigrant Gap would have experienced temporary deafness coming down from an altitude of 7,200 feet.

When one listens to loud music with a good pair of stereophonic or surround sound earphones, one does not seem to experience much hearing loss after removing the earphones. However, if humidity is very high (97%-100%), the earphones may trap moist air in the ear canals, and the loud music creates strong sound waves that “slush” the moist air in the ear canal against the ear drums. This slushing has pressure that seems to push against the ear wax and compacting it. Afterwards, one may experience sudden deafness.

The conventional method to remove ear wax is to put a few drops of an oil into the ear and then use the rubber suction ball that comes with the ear wax removal kit to suck out the loosened ear wax. Sometimes, however, the ear wax is too dry and hard and is imbedded very deeply inside the ear canals. Since oil and wax essentially do not mix, the oil may only loosen the ear wax but may not be able to break it down or soften it. And if the hardened pieces of ear wax are relatively large, or are imbedded too deeply, they will still obstruct hearing.

There is a home remedy to get rid of deeply imbedded and hardened ear wax, and ear infections, even when the ear has completely lost hearing due to accumulation and infection at the onset of sudden deafness.

Hydrogen peroxide moistens ear wax and breaks it up. Ear wax removal oil does not seem to do that. If one pours oil into the ear and then presses the side of the ear, one will hear a slushing sound. If one pours hydrogen peroxide into the ear, and then presses the side of the ear, one will not only hear a slushing sound but also popping sounds inside the ear. The hydrogen peroxide is releasing oxygen in bursts. These microbursts break up the now moistened ear wax. These loosened and broken up pieces of ear wax will then be small enough to be sucked out by the suction ball. Improvement in hearing may not be immediate if there is remnant hydrogen peroxide and deeply entrenched hardened and dry ear wax. The hydrogen peroxide in the ear will eventually evaporate and dry out the ear. Hearing improvement may or may not occur at this time.

However, in my case, at least, I was still completely deaf in my right ear even after my right ear dried out. I tried some rather drastic measures which I will not mention here but nothing seemed to work. Frustrated, I decided to pour hydrogen peroxide directly into the ear again, and went to sleep. In bed, my inner ear began to make popping sounds. That indicated to me that the hydrogen peroxide had penetrated the deeply entrenched and hardened ear wax and that the ear wax was being broken up. About two to three days later, while I still assumed that I was completely deaf in my right ear, I was surprised that loud and clear hearing had returned to my right ear.

The hearing test I did was very simple. During telephone conversations, I would switch ears to see if I could hear equally well with both ears. When my right ear was completely stopped up, I was unable to hear any sound in my right ear when holding the telephone against it. I was completely deaf in my right ear.

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About masterchensays

Victor Chen, herbalist, alternative healthcare lecturer, Chinese affairs analyst, retired journalist
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