What causes sudden hearing loss?

Sudden hearing loss or deafness is believed to be caused by either a virus, a tiny blood clot in the inner ear, Meniere's disease or, rarely, a tumor growing on the hearing nerve.

How is it treated?

It is best treated by an Otologist (Ear Specialist) as soon as possible after the hearing loss occurs. Most of the medical literature shows excellent improvement of hearing if the hearing loss is treated within the first 72 hours. Treatment should not be delayed for more than 6 weeks, since the literature shows poorer results after this time.

The treatment options include giving high doses of corticosteroids (Prednisone) for several weeks, injections of corticosteroids into the middle ear, or both. The recommended treatment is to use both methods, but it is important to speak with your otologist regarding which option is best for you and your specific condition.

Some patients may experience several side effects from oral steroids, such as mood changes, weight gain, increase in blood glucose levels, increase in blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, and possible hip injury. It is important to talk to your otologist regarding these side effects before committing to the oral steroid regimen.

Many patients decide to undergo the steroid injections instead as it acts locally in the ear and avoids some of the systemic side effects. However, this option  may require several re-injection procedures over the course of a few weeks, which some patients find hard to tolerate.

What is the MircoWick Procedure?

The MicroWick is an ingenious method to deliver the steroid into the middle ear without causing the weekly discomfort of an injection. Furthermore, instead of just 1 injection a week, the patients with a MicroWick have the privilege of treating the inner ear with steroids 3 times a day in the comfort of their own home, further increasing the chances of effective treatment.

The MicroWick is placed through the eardrum after anesthetizing the ear with a local anesthetic. The procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes and is done in the office procedure room. A small opening is made through the eardrum. The MicroWick is inserted through this opening and acts as a catheter to introduce the steroids into the inner ear.

The patient puts three drops of the steroid solution in the ear three times a day, usually for one month. This ensures that the inner ear receives a constant dosage of steroids throughout the day and for several weeks, instead of the usual single weekly injection of steroids performed by most otologists.

Why is the MicroWick better than oral steroids or injection?

We usually offer the MicroWick as a supplement treatment to oral steroids, or when oral steroids are contraindicated for the patient.

The MicroWick is advantageous as the presence and concentration of the steroids in the inner ear is much higher than when taken orally. The steroids go directly into the  inner ear without affecting the entire body. The fact that the patient receives 3 doses a day further increases their chances of receiving adequate treatment of the inner ear.

In patients with Hypertension, ulcers or diabetes, taking oral steroids may be harmful and so we are able to treat the patient without using the oral steroids.

How good are the results?

The results in the literature indicate that the earlier the treatment, the better the result. For best results, you should seek treatment with 48 to 72 hours of hearing loss. Treatment should not be delayed for more than 6 weeks, but in some cases we may offer the MicroWick treatment even if the deafness is several months old.

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