Harvard Health Letter

By the way, doctor: What can be done for sudden hearing loss in one ear?

Q. My 47-year-old son suddenly lost hearing in one ear. They did some blood tests and he was given steroids and a medication called Valtrex. Now they are saying nothing can be done. Can you please address this issue?

A. There are two basic types of hearing loss, conductive and sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss occurs when something keeps sound waves from traveling through the ear — a bit of soundproofing right where you don't want it! The obstacle can be anything from a chunk of earwax to inflamed tissue to a benign growth.

Sensorineural hearing loss is a problem either with the intricate apparatus that translates sound waves into nerve impulses (the sensory part of sensorineural) or with the auditory nerve that sends those impulses to the brain (the neural part).

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