a masculine person holding his hand up to his ear because he has suddenly lost his hearing

What to do if You’ve Suddenly Lost Hearing

Contributed by Amanda Richardson, BC-HIS, MBA, BA-CD

2/16/2024 12:00:00 AM • 4 min read

Tags • Research

You wake up in the morning and notice that you aren’t hearing well out of one (or even both) ear(s). Maybe it sounds dead or there is some ringing. You think, “It’ll come back, no worries.” But it doesn’t. The next day comes and you’re still not hearing well. Perhaps that is what landed you here on this website! When is it time to be concerned about sudden hearing loss? The short answer is always. 

You need to see a licensed professional as soon as possible, especially if your sudden hearing loss is paired with tinnitus (ringing in the ears), headaches, and/or dizziness (vertigo). Time is of the essence when it comes to treatment protocols. The faster you get treatment, the better the chance for recovery. The treatments are more effective the sooner you get help.  

Possible Causes of Sudden Hearing Loss

The first thing to think about is what happened right before you experienced the shift in your hearing. Some medications are ototoxic, which means they cause hearing loss. Water pills and cholesterol pills are common ototoxic medicines. Sometimes your hearing will come back after you finish these meds and sometimes it won’t. You should speak with your prescribing physician about ototoxicity and whether the benefits of the medicine outweigh this side effect. Do not stop taking any medications without checking with the doctor who prescribed them. 

Illness can also cause shifts in your hearing. COVID-19, infections, head trauma, chemotherapy and others can cause hearing loss. Again, checking with a physician or hearing care professional is a good idea to see what the outlook is for your hearing long-term. 

Sometimes people experience sudden hearing loss when they have heard a very loud noise. After exposure to especially loud sounds, the ligaments in the ear pull the bones tight to protect the nerves from permanent hearing loss. This may also be accompanied by ringing. This tightening of the ligaments temporarily makes your hearing worse, but it should recover within 24 hours.

It’s always advisable if you work in a noisy environment, or have hobbies that create noise, to wear ear protection. It’s easy to find disposable ear protection online or in sporting goods stores. Remember that repeated exposure to noise over time can cause hearing loss. It’s always better to be safe now than sorry later. 

Changes in pressure can cause temporary hearing shifts. Activities such as flying, diving or driving through the mountains can cause pressure shifts. Your ears can take time to regulate the pressure change, which causes some temporary shifts in hearing. This usually resolves itself within in a few hours but sometimes it can last a day or two.  


Sometimes, sudden hearing loss can be caused by something as simple and easy as wax in the ears. Once the wax is removed, hearing returns. It is recommended that you check with a licensed professional if you lose hearing suddenly. And it’s a good habit to have annual hearing evaluations! A baseline of your hearing at “normal” is good to know for when you suddenly lose hearing. Contact HearingLife today to schedule a hearing checkup so you’ll know exactly how your hearing health is doing. 

amanda richardson hearing instrument specialist
Amanda Richardson, BC-HIS, MBA, BA-CD

Amanda Richardson grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. She has been practicing for over 24 years and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Wisconsin, continuing on to receive her master’s degree from the same institution. Amanda is licensed in both the states of Washington and Oregon.Her devotion to helping the hearing impaired came from her love of family. A good portion of her family is hearing impaired, and she has firsthand experience of how hearing loss can affect daily life. Suffering from tinnitus herself, Amanda possesses an attitude of compassion, never giving up and truly striving to help in any way she can. She has received countless awards for her dedication to the hard of hearing, and fights tirelessly for the benefit of those she serves.

Ready to take our complimentary hearing assessment?*
Fill out the form below and we will contact you shortly.

Step 1 of 2