June 18, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

HEALTH FEATURE: Preventing Sudden Hearing Loss at Alexander Audiology

Santa Monica’s Dr. Melissa Alexander discusses sudden idiopathic hearing loss

Sudden idiopathic hearing loss, or sudden deafness, is an unexplained and rapid loss of hearing in one ear. Cases of sudden deafness have increased within the last few years, leaving patients susceptible to permanent damage if left untreated. 

Dr. Melissa Alexander, an audiologist based in Santa Monica, has worked with numerous patients who experienced sudden deafness. “I was working for one of the top hearing clinics in the world,” Alexander began. “We would see maybe one in a thousand cases where a patient would wake up or experience throughout the day that one ear suddenly decreased in hearing randomly and spontaneously. They would come in to have their hearing tested, and we found that it is a virus of unknown origin that attacks the ear.”

In some cases, the issue resolves itself spontaneously. “In most cases, they don’t,” Alexander continued. “It can cause permanent ringing in the ear called tinnitus, and it can also cause permanent hearing loss.”

Through her own private practice, Alexander noticed a startling increase in patients seeking treatment for sudden deafness. “For my ten years of practice in total, I might’ve seen maybe 20 cases. Now in three and a half years, I’ve seen 170 cases,” Alexander explained. “I talked to other audiologists and ear, nose and throat doctors who are also noting a high incidence of this happening. The unfortunate part is we don’t know why it’s happening.”

Despite its severity, most patients are unaware that sudden deafness is considered a medical emergency. “If you feel that randomly or spontaneously your hearing is down in one ear, or you have sudden ringing or tinnitus happening in one ear, that is an indication that you should be treated,” Alexander explained. “Get to an audiologist that day and potentially get treated with steroids by an ear, nose and throat doctor immediately.”

Patients diagnosed with sudden deafness either receive a high dose of oral steroids or a combination that includes a steroid injection past the eardrum into the middle ear space that absorbs into the blood stream. The window of treatment is 24 to 48 hours, and if that time frame passes, there’s an elevated chance that the damage is permanent. 

If patients seek medical help immediately, they have a higher chance of preventing permanent hearing loss. “One patient was referred to me by his ear, nose and throat doctor. The patient in particular already had no hearing in one ear,” Alexander explained. “He was a veteran, and he had an acoustic blast trauma where it wiped out the hearing in one ear. The opposite ear now had potentially a sudden idiopathic hearing loss where we thought the hearing was down. We tested him, and the hearing was 60 percent down in the only ear he had remaining that was functional.” 

By the time testing was completed, it was about 6:30 in the evening, and the ear, nose and throat doctor who referred the patient was gone for the day. Alexander continued, “I managed to page their service and get him to get a prescription right away. The patient didn’t really understand that he needed to be treated that moment. He said, ‘Well, I’ll wait til the morning when my pharmacy opens.’ And I said, ‘Sir, you cannot wait until the morning. You have to do this right now.’ He ended up following our directions. He got the steroid treatment and his hearing came back entirely. If he had waited until that morning, the likelihood is very little that he would have regained hearing.”

In cases where sudden deafness results in permanent hearing loss, patients still have options, including wearing a transmitter that looks like a hearing aid. “Let’s say your right ear is affected,” Alexander explains. “Somebody standing on your right side could speak to you and the left ear would pick it up because that transmitter on the poor ear routes the sound to the better ear.” 

Above all else, Alexander recommends seeking medical attention as soon as possible. “Telling the doctor’s office that this is an emergency situation, my hearing is down and I suspect sudden deafness is a red flag that we know in the medical community to get that patient in immediately.”

For more information about Alexander Audiology, visit alexanderaudiology.com, call (424) 738-3778, follow on Facebook and Instagram @alexanderaudiology or find them on Yelp.

Related Posts

WeHo One City One Pride Kick-Off

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

On Saturday, May 22, 2021 the City of West Hollywood kicked-off its One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival.  A...

Pride Poets Poetry Hotline This Weekend

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

West Hollywood’s poet laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace and the Pride Poets team will be writing free custom poems this weekend in...

WeHo’s Public Art Exhibition ‘Meringue’ by Artist Kiduck Kim

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

The City of West Hollywood presents the public art sculpture installation “Meringue” by artist Kiduck Kim on display through July...

“WeHo Sounds” Free Virtual Concert Series

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

The City of West Hollywood kicks-off “WeHo Sounds”, a free Friday evening virtual concert series on June 18. Concerts will...

Pride Poets’ Corner: Featuring Nate’Eya Kahsai

June 6, 2021

June 6, 2021

Pride Poets’ Corner, curated by WeHo’s Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace, would like to spread the word about their upcoming poetry...

Pride Poets’ Corner: Featuring Works By D.R. Baker

June 6, 2021

June 6, 2021

Pride Poets’ Corner, curated by WeHo’s Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace, would like to spread the word about their upcoming poetry...

LGBTQ Center Long Beach Screening “The Wizard Of Oz”

June 6, 2021

June 6, 2021

Celebrate LGBTQ Pride with an interactive screening of The Wizard of Oz, a fundraiser for the LGBTQ Center Long Beach. ...

LA Based Gay Comedian Nicky Paris Is Breaking Barriers

May 28, 2021

May 28, 2021

Nicky Paris is an LA Based gay comedian on the rise.  Making waves performing throughout the country, Paris has been...

The Abbey Food & Bar Celebrates 30 Years

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

On May 23rd The Abbey Food & Bar celebrated 30 years since its founding in May 1991. The Abbey has...

West Hollywood Declares May 23rd “Born This Way Day”

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

The City of West Hollywood is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Lady Gaga’s hit song Born This Way by...

Artists Featured For SaMo Pride Rainbow Road Art Walk

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

In honor of Pride month Santa Monica Pride (SaMo Pride) will feature a Rainbow Road Art Walk from June 4th-...

Drag Queen Bingo Supporting Ruff Patches

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

Popular LGBTQ spot Hamburger Mary’s West Hollywood will be hosting its regular drag bingo to support Ruff Patches animal rescue. ...

Venice Pride Big Beach Clean Up

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

In honor of Pride 2021 Heal the Bay and Venice Pride are organizing a beach cleanup called Venice Pride’s BIG...

VGL LA: Queer+ Draft Kickball League 2021

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

Varsity Gay League is holding its annual Draft League held on Wednesday nights for 6 weeks.  Draft League means that...

Awakening Recovery Helping LGBTQ+ People With Addiction

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

Awakening Recovery is a non-profit recovery community created to provide a safe and effective environment for men to build the...