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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Losing My Hearing Due to Cold

06/04/2001

Question:

lately, I`ve been having problems with my hearing. When I get a cold, I lose total hearing in both ears (not at once). I went to my doctor and he said to take Sudifed to clear it. I was taking it for awhile and it did seem to clear and then I developed another cold the following week which closed my left ear totally. I went back to the doctor and he told me again to take sudifed. My hearing hasn`t improved and I`m getting concerned that I have an inner ear infection even though my doctor said that he couldn`t really tell if there was an infection or not. He recomended going to an Ears, Nose and Throat doctor, but they are booked up until July!! What should I do? I`m frightened to lose my hearing.

Answer:

I agree that you should see an ENT as soon as possible. Most of the time the problem is swelling of the eustachian tube which can cause a middle ear effusion (fluid). This will usually resolve on its own or with decongestants (pseudophedrine) over weeks to months. However, sudden (sensorineural) hearing loss can also occur after a cold, which doesn`t always get better. Call the ENT`s office and tell them you may have just suffered from sudden hearing loss and you need to be seen and have a hearing test right away. If they cannot get you in, call another ENT. If you still cannot get in, get a hearing test somewhere else and if there is a `sensorineural` hearing loss, then consider asking your primary care doctor what he/she thinks about prescribing a short course of steroids and possibly antiviral therapy. Good luck and I hope this helps.

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Response by:

David  L Steward, MD David L Steward, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati