About Me

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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sudden deafness

After my influenza was over, I took it easy for a few days (took the subway to work instead of walking etc.) but on Tuesday evening my ear started feeling a bit weird (kind of like how it feels when you are in a plane and the air pressure changes). I figured it was probably an ear infection coming and went home to rest.

On Wednesday morning the ear felt more blocked but did not actually heart. Since I did not have that much to do at work, I stopped by the hospital where I live and had them check my ear. They did not have an ear specialist there, but said that it was probably an ear infection from having a cold/influenza and gave me some medicines for that. They said the ear looked fine, though.

In the evening, the ear had not changed at all, so I went to an ear specialist that was open late. They checked my hearing and said that I had "sudden deafness", which means pretty much that. You wake up one day and one (or both, if you are unlucky) ear is deaf. The reason seems to be a virus killing your nerves in the ear.

If untreated, you will stay deaf forever, they told me and shoved me into another room and pumped me full of steroids intravenously. They also prescribed a lot of steroids for me to take the next weeks and then come back for a check up to see if the steroid dose should be lowered. I also get some other pills.

Apparently, of the people that receive treatment, about half regain their hearing again. Not the best odds... Of the rest, some regain some hearing, some stay completely dead forever.

I thought I had already had my quota of weird medical problems (I had surgery twice already in Japan, and several times back in Sweden too; appendicitis, hernia (which was a funny story in itself), and more), but apparently I am not done yet... Oh well, let's hope I am in the 50% that get better.

Current status is that my left ear has pretty much zero hearing. I can hear some high frequency sounds, but the hearing of those is very very much worse than normal too.

Interesting thing I learned from this (apart from the existence of sudden deafness which I had never heard of before): when your ear stops working your (or at least my) brain reacts by thinking you have something stuck in your ear. The illusion is very convincing. It feels very much like something is stuck your ear, even though the reason is just that you cannot hear low frequency sounds.


  1. This doesn't sound great:/ hope you are feeling better by now! fingers crossed.

    1. Indeed, this is probably the worst disease I have ever had... The part about "only about half the people who get treatment recover" is worrying.

      It has now been a little over one week, and nothing has changed. But even for the people who do get better it seems to take weeks so I am still hoping I will be one of the lucky ones :-)

      Nothing has changed, which means I actually feel physically fine. The only problem is that my left ear is completely deaf. The rest of me is doing great. Except that is a bit mentally straining to not know if I will get my hearing back or not, of course.