ZocdocAnswersCan hearing loss be temporary?

Question

Can hearing loss be temporary?

I was playing with fireworks with my buddies and one went off super close to my ear. For two days my hearing in the right ear has been very muffled. Is this just temporary or permanent? Can you do temporary damage to your hearing and then have it go back to normal?

Answer

Hearing loss is a significant concern. I would strongly recommend that you see your doctor. While there may be some improvement, this still requires attention. To answer your question -- YES -- hearing loss can be temporary, but can also be permanent. The prognosis depends on what was injured. The most common cause of hearing loss is acoustic trauma. Acoustic trauma -- is when a loud sound at one time (as you experienced) or longstanding loud noises (like when people wear earbuds for a long time at a high volume) causes damage of the auditory system. One problem that can occur with acoustic trauma is damage to the mechanical or sensory component of the auditory system -- like the ear drum and bones. Rupture of the ear drum or tympanic membrane requires attention as this can become infected and cause permanent damage. This however may heal by itself or with surgery. There can also be permanent damage. If the acoustic trauma doesn't damage the mechanical sensory component -- but damages the nerve component -- this can be permanent. See your doctor. Determining if this is sensory or neural damage is important as this will affect prognosis as well as if treatment is necessary. Obviously hearing is an important sense and without adequate attention this could be a very debilitating illness. Good luck!

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