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When it’s not wax: Sudden hearing loss and why you should act fast

Usually, the first sign of an ear wax impaction is a blocked feeling in the ear. Wax is not the only thing that can cause this feeling, however, and one thing we are always on the lookout for is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL). SSHL refers to potentially permanent deafness occurring instantly or across a short time span, usually in one ear. SSHL is often accompanied by a blocked feeling in the ear, often with tinnitus, and sometimes with dizziness or vertigo.

Video otoscopy images showing a complete wax impaction (left) versus a clear ear canal with normal-looking ear drum.

If you experience SSHL, it is important to undergo medical investigation as soon as possible by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist for two reasons. Firstly, SSHL can be the result of several serious medical conditions that require detection and treatment. Secondly, the standard treatment for SSHL is steroid therapy, and there is a short time window for this treatment to be successful.

3 things we do to ensure you get the best care


Same day appointment

If you experience a sudden hearing loss or suddenly blocked ear, contact us and we will see you on the same day.


Immediate audiology testing

If we find that you do not have a wax impaction, or if earwax removal does not resolve your symptoms, we will immediately investigate with a hearing test.


Priority Ear, Nose and Throat appointment

Our clinic works closely with several ENT specialists. If our testing shows that you have had SSHL, we will help co-ordinate an urgent consultation for you with one of the ENT specialists.

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