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Amersham woman's hearing disappears in a day

Amersham woman's hearing disappears in a day

Published by Charlotte Fisher at 8:02am 6th May 2019. (Updated at 8:45am 6th May 2019)

Thinking you might never hear your children or husband again was something an Amersham woman had to face.

Nikki Magrath lost all her hearing in one ear overnight, a condition known as Sudden Sensorineual Hearing Loss.

She has suffered with the condition twice.

Once, losing hearing in her good ear, then in her other which already had limited heading anyway. 

Experts believe that between one and six people in 5,000 every year suddenly lose their hearing, yet for 50% of those cases hearing loss could be restored with the right and immediate medical attention which is often not sought.

Duncan Collet-Fenson from Aston Hearing, one of the UK's leading audiologists, is fighting to have Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL) recognised as a medical emergency by the general public and GP's as part of Deaf Awareness Week on 6th to 12th May.

He said:

"If you were to suddenly lose your eyesight, you would most likely go straight away to casualty. 

"Yet we are still not placing the same level of importance on our hearing. If you suddenly lose your hearing, it could well be a medical emergency.

"If you have suffered from SSHL, waiting even just two weeks for medical advice is likely to result in complete loss of hearing in the affected ear. "

Amersham woman's hearing disappears in a day
Duncan wants SSHL to be recognised as a medical emergency

Approximately 11 million people in the UK are currently suffering from hearing loss which equates to roughly one in six of us, but sudden hearing loss is still misunderstood, can affect anyone at any age and often goes undiagnosed.

Nikki Magrath from Amersham suffered from SSHL:

"I woke up one morning and found I was completely deaf in one ear even though I had been completely fine the night before and didn't feel unwell.

"I had a full hearing investigation three weeks later where it was confirmed I had Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL) but because it had not been diagnosed early enough it was too late to treat and my hearing never recovered in that ear.

"The most frightening thought for me is the fear of not being able to hear my family."

Thankfully, her hearing has partially returned because of fast treatment second time around. 

SSHL is thought to have various possible causes including viral infections, blood circulation problems, head trauma or autoimmune disease.

In most cases the exact cause is never found, which makes prevention much harder. SSHL can happen at any age and only 10% of those diagnosed have an identifiable cause.

So what are the symptoms?

Collet-Fenson says:

"You may notice its onset by a 'pop' in one ear before the hearing disappears or it may fade away over a few hours.

"It may only be apparent when you try to use the phone on the affected ear.

"SSHL may also be accompanied by vertigo (dizziness), tinnitus (ringing in the ear) or a feeling of fullness in the ear."

"The major problem we face is the symptoms of SSHL and temporary hearing loss are very similar so you may be tempted to put the symptoms down to a temporary blockage caused by wax or fluid.

"However, these symptoms may also be a result of SSHL and therefore, all types of sudden hearing loss must be checked in order to rule out anything serious."

Although there are no clear-cut ways to deter the onset of SSHL, Collet-Fenson highlights that protecting your everyday health can help protect your ear health:

"The best ways to protect yourself from SSHL are to protect your hearing at work and in loud environments if needs be, get your hearing tested every 2-5 years depending on your age, always wear a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, treat sinus infections early, keep a check on your blood pressure as high blood pressure can cause a vascular episode in the cochlea, have a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight, don't smoke and get enough sleep.

"SSHL can still strike anyone and any time so the most important recommendation is getting medical help immediately."

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