Sudden deafness

If someone suddenly becomes deaf in a short period of time, this is called sudden deafness. This is in contrast to a slow process in which hearing loss gradually increases. Sudden deafness can occur at any age. The acute deafness occurs within seconds to minutes or hours.

It is not always possible to identify a cause: 'unexplained sudden deafness'.


Sudden deafness can be a consequence of:

  • a vestibular tumor (vestibular schwannoma) on the auditory nerves, between the brainstem and the cerebellum. The eighth cranial nerve arises from the brain stem and leads to the ear canal. A bilateral bridge angle tumor can be caused, among other things, by a hereditary condition: Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2).
  • traumatic brain injury
  • meningitis
  • drug poisoning
    • with an older anti-fever drug Quinine
    • with antibiotics IV/IM: Streptomycin, Gentomycin, Kanamycin
    • with painkillers: NSAIDs
    • with chemotherapy: cytostatics
    • with diuretics: Furosemide, Loop diuretics
    • when administering ear drops, especially antibiotics in case of an open eardrum


Possible other causes of sudden deafness

  • a circulation disorder
  • a virus infection
  • disturbed immune response


There are several causes of sudden deafness that have nothing to do with brain injury.
One of the first complaints of sudden deafness is tinnitus. Then it is important to consult a doctor immediately!

About a third of people with sudden deafness have balance disorders, ranging from vertigo to nausea with vomiting.

Meniere's disease must be ruled out.

Also consult this website.

Life turns upside down in one fell swoop.


Double handicap

Communication may already be impaired due to the brain injury, but because the person suddenly becomes deaf, this is greatly enhanced.
The person may still be able to read what is said and communicate in writing, but communication may be further limited by:

  • paralysis or loss of strength because the hand function of the hand with which the person normally writes has disappeared
  • visual problems have occurred such as visual field loss /
  • there is aphasia or difficulty speaking


Finding ways to communicate differently

  • communicate in writing
    Communicating in writing is a simple option, but the person affected by sudden deafness can often still use her or his voice.
  • lip reading
    Every person with sudden deafness tries to read lips, to see what is being said. This is very tiring. There are speech therapists who can teach lip reading.
  • text systems that read aloud
    There are communication tools on the market that read text aloud. A speech therapist or an occupational therapist can provide information about it.
  • cochlear implant (CI)
    In some people with sudden deafness, a cochlear implant (CI) can be inserted into the cochlea near the ear, in the skull, allowing them to hear again. A cochlear implant is best described as a surgically inserted hearing aid. It is best to insert this implant within a few weeks after the acute deafness.


Emotional guidance and rehabilitation is of great importance.