Inner Ear

Sudden Deafness

One of the most perplexing, maddening, poorly understood unsolved medical mysteries!

Signs & Symptoms

  • no known cause
  • abrupt onset – over minutes, hours or days
  • one or both ears
  • complete or partial loss of hearing
    • sometimes only high or low tones are lost
    • the loss may be constant or fluctuating

May also have

  • tinnitus – high, low, constant, fluctuating, roaring, clicking, loud or quiet
  • nausea or vomiting
  • vertigo – giddiness, imbalance
  • pressure in the ear – feels blocked
  • fullness on side of head

Some people will experience Tinnitus and not realise that they have a hearing loss. Some people will notice that they cannot hear on the phone, or cannot tell which direction sounds are coming from.


  • 1/3 normal hearing returns
  • 1/3 improve – some hearing loss remains
  • 1/3 hearing does not improve


The length of time from the onset of Sudden Deafness to the beginning of treatment is very important. Best results may be achieved if treatment is started in the first three days after the loss.

If you experience a SUDDEN change in your hearing see a TOLBECS Ear Nurse or your Doctor IMMEDIATELY to have your ears assessed and a hearing test done.

If a Sudden Deafness is suspected your GP will consult with the ENT Dept (Ear Nose and Throat) at your local Hospital. You may be sent to see them straight away or the ENT Doctor may recommend that drug treatment is started by your GP and a follow-up appointment at ENT may be made for the following week.