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      Sudden hearing loss

      If you have a sudden hearing loss in one or both ears, it's important to see an ear, nose and throat specialist urgently so you can benefit from treatment straight away.

      Sudden hearing loss may affect one or both ears and can be either a conductive hearing loss or a sensorineural hearing loss, depending on which parts of your ear(s) are affected. It can happen instantly or over the course of a few weeks (despite the word ‘sudden’), and you may also have tinnitus or balance problems. How your hearing recovers will depend on the cause and severity of the problem.

      What should I do if I have sudden hearing loss?

      If you have sudden hearing loss, contact your GP for an urgent referral to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. If you can't see your GP for any reason, go to your nearest accident and emergency department. At the hospital, an ENT specialist should carry out detailed tests to assess the degree and type of hearing loss you have. You may need to stay in hospital for appropriate treatment, or you may be treated as an outpatient.

      What can cause sudden hearing loss?

      Causes of sudden hearing loss include:

      Information and support

      If you've experienced sudden hearing loss, our Information Line is here to provide confidential support. Call 0808 808 0123 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or email

      Information Line



      0808 808 9000

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