Getting help quickly can prevent sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent

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Sudden hearing loss happens more than you think, and most people mistake it for a head cold. (WLS)

Sudden hearing loss happens more than you think, and most people mistake it for a head cold.

Imagine waking up not being able to hear out of one ear? Sudden hearing loss happens more than you think, and most people mistake it for a head cold. Getting help quickly could save your hearing.

David Alboukrek loves the sounds of nature, but one day he woke up unable to hear out of his left ear.

"Muffled sound, ringing in my ear," he said.

At first, he wasn't sure what was going on.

"You may think you have a cold or it's something that'll go away," Alboukrek said.

But when his hearing did not return, David went to see hearing specialist Dr. Mark Widick. He says sudden hearing loss affects thousands of people every year and is often misdiagnosed.

"They will diagnose an infection when the hearing loss is not due to infection," Dr. Widick said.

If not treated quickly, there could be permanent hearing loss. Doctor Widick says patients need to get an audiogram.

"It's a test of the hearing that is very specific," Widick said.

He says in most cases the blood vessel that feeds the entire hearing system is damaged.

"Once that happens it's like a stroke to the ear," said Dr. Widick.

His team is now part of an FDA-approved trial testing a new drug, called AM-111, meant to stop the damage and save hearing. But time is of the essence.

"The duration from onset of symptoms is less than 72 hours," said Dr. Widick.

David did not get the study medication, but was treated with steroids to stop the inflammation. His lesson for others ... don't wait to get help.

"Because it was treated very early on, I was not left with any permanent hearing loss," Alboukrek said.

Allowing him to enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature once again.

The cause of sudden hearing loss is still not exactly known. In David's case, he has been told his immune system probably attacked his hearing. To learn more about the study and find a clinic with details about the drug trial, please visit www.suddendeafness-study.com.

If you would like more information, check out the medical breakthroughs on the web at www.ivanhoe.com.

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