How to Tell if Hearing Loss is Permanent or Temporary

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When you suddenly can’t hear as well as you could, it can be alarming. It’s natural to wonder whether the impact on your hearing will be permanent. When it comes to your hearing, it’s always best to seek help from a trained medical expert.

Our team of hearing loss experts at MetroHearing in Phoenix, AZ, have put together this guide to permanent and temporary hearing loss to help you gauge the possibility.

Permanent Hearing Loss

Permanent hearing loss occurs when the inner ear or the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain become damaged. As the name implies, this type of hearing loss is typically irreversible.
You may also hear permanent hearing loss, referred to as sensorineural hearing loss. There are several reasons why it may occur:


This is the most common cause of permanent hearing loss. Hair cells in the cochlea play a significant role in hearing. As people age, these hair cells can become damaged or die. As they do, hearing loss occurs.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss:

The hair cells in the cochlea can also be damaged as a result of loud noises. This can be caused by a single, very loud sound or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over a long period.


Certain diseases, such as Meniere’s disease, can lead to permanent hearing loss. Infections like meningitis or mumps can also lead to hearing loss, as can the growth of a tumor on the auditory nerve.


Hearing loss can also be a result of your genetics. Over 50% of hearing loss cases are due to a family history of family members who are affected.
Head Trauma: If a severe head injury causes damage to the structures of the inner ear, it can have an irreversible impact on hearing.

Temporary Hearing Loss

Temporary hearing loss is a short-term reduction in hearing ability. Depending on the cause, it can affect one or both ears. The situation usually resolves itself within a few hours to a few days. Here are some of the common causes of temporary hearing loss:

Exposure to Loud Noise:

This is the most common cause of temporary hearing loss. Although prolonged exposure to loud noises can cause permanent damage, the results from occasional exposure are usually temporary.

Earwax Buildup:

For those who don’t correctly remove wax from their ears, the substance can build up enough that it blocks the ear canal. This makes it harder for sound to reach the inner ear. Removal of the ear wax usually resolves the issue.

Ear Infections:

When the ear becomes infected, particularly the middle ear, fluid buildup and inflammation occur. If these conditions become bad enough, it can lead to hearing loss until the infection clears up.

Sudden Pressure Changes:

Rapid changes in air or water pressure, such as during airplane takeoffs and landings or while scuba diving, can temporarily limit hearing.

How to Know if Hearing Loss May Be Permanent

The best way to know whether your hearing loss may be permanent is to get a professional assessment. There are still some indicators to help you judge the severity of your condition.

Temporary hearing loss typically resolves itself within a few days. If yours has lasted longer than that, then it’s a sure sign that you need to see a professional. This is especially true if removing the cause of the hearing loss, such as earwax or an ear infection, doesn’t resolve the issue.

Loud noises can cause both temporary and permanent hearing loss. Noises like gunfire or explosions can reach over 85 decibels. If you are exposed to a noise that loud without ear protection, the risk of permanent damage is higher.

Suppose you have other symptoms accompanying your hearing loss, such as ringing in the ears or balance issues. In that case, there may be something more serious wrong.

If You Need Help With Sudden Hearing Loss, Contact Us Today

If you’ve suddenly lost your hearing, the best thing to do is to contact a professional. The team at MetroHearing can professionally assess your hearing and determine whether the condition is permanent or not.

In either case, we can help you determine the next steps. Contact one of our locations today to schedule your appointment.


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