Becoming suddenly deaf is scary, but according to the National Institute of Health it is not so rare. About 4,000 Americans report sudden hearing loss every year. Since the reason can be anything from infection to circulation problems, doctors are pretty much at a loss how to treat it unless their patient has an idea what caused it. The treatment varies greatly from one doctor to another, from doing nothing to sending the patient to an expensive test. In a rare example of common sense, a group of 19 experts in the field got together and came up with the Guidelines for the treatment of the Sudden Hearing Loss, an evidence-based set of recommendations for doctors who are faced with the decision on the treatment.
What is Sudden Hearing Loss?
Sudden hearing loss is a sudden and very fast complete or partial hearing loss, experienced as a feeling of blocked or full ears or ear. Most people rush to the emergency room, but some ignore it. In both cases, the treatment is delayed unless a person has some idea what prompted their loss of hearing. While in most cases hearing returns completely in a few days, about 15 percents of people have permanent hearing loss.
The goal of the Guidelines
The scientists who drafted the Guidelines compiled all available research on sudden hearing loss and recommended the best possible cause of action. They were guided by the belief that fast recognition and treatment of the problem has a good chance of offering complete recovery. It also offers patient a piece of mind and better quality of life. The guidelines are also hoped to improve diagnosis and cut on the number of unnecessary (and expensive) tests and scans.
It is not uncommon that doctors disagree on the treatment of even the most common health issues. One of the reasons is huge amount of research conducted all over the world, often with contradictory results. While doctors are left confused, there is nothing patients hate as much as doctors offering widely different treatments. This example of coordinated effort to help both patients and doctors is rare, but hopefully should become a trend at times when cutting on expensive treatments is becoming an economic imperative.