Alka Yagnik diagnosed with rare hearing disorder

Playback singer Alka Yagnik has revealed that was diagnosed with a rare hearing disorder some weeks ago, a "sudden, major setback" that she says caught her completely unawares.
Alka Yagnik
Alka Yagnik

Mumbai/New Delhi | Playback singer Alka Yagnik has revealed that was diagnosed with a rare hearing disorder some weeks ago, a "sudden, major setback" that she says caught her completely unawares.

In a post on Instagram on Monday night, Yagnik, 58, said she has been diagnosed with "sensory neural nerve hearing loss" due to a viral attack.

"To all my fans, friends, followers and well wishers. A few weeks ago, as I walked out of a flight, I suddenly felt I was not able to hear anything. Having mustered some courage in the weeks following the episode, I want to break my silence now for all my friends and well wishers who have been asking me why I'm missing in action.

"It has been diagnosed by my docs as a rare sensory neural nerve hearing loss, due to a viral attack... This sudden, major setback has caught me completely unaware," the two-time National Award winner wrote.

As the news spread, questions rose over what could have suddenly struck the singer, one of Bollywood's best known, and what happens next. The condition is reversible, said Dr Suresh Singh Naruka, senior consultant, ENT, at Delhi's Apollo Hospitals.

"The sooner you report to the doctor and start the treatment, the higher the chances you can get your organ functioning back," Naruka told PTI.

Yagnik, popular for songs such as "Ek Do Teen", "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" and "Gali Mein Aaj Chand Nikla", asked her fans and followers to send their best wishes and keep her in their prayers.

In her post, she also cautioned people against hearing "very loud music and headphones". "One day, I wish to share the health perils of my professional life. With all your love and support I am hoping to recalibrate my life and come back to you soon. Your support and understanding will mean the world to me in this critical hour," she said.

The ear, like any other organ, can experience failure leading to a sudden loss in hearing, explained Naruka.

"The sudden failure of the ear is called sudden sensory neural hearing loss... Virus is one such reason. "Sometimes, without any reason or maybe because of poor blood supply, one can have sudden hearing loss.... Virus, idiopathic (unknown cause), or sometimes a tumour, there are so many reasons one has sudden organ failure that can cause severe hearing loss in sometimes in one ear or both," Naruka said.

If it is a sudden hearing loss, the standard regime is to give steroids.

"It can be administered orally and intratympanic, in which case steroid injections are given directly into the ear to stimulate the organ again.

"Then, there is the hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which treats medical conditions by supplying 100 per cent oxygen with a little more pressure inside a specialised chamber," Naruka said.

Asked if Yagnik's condition deteriorated due to overexposure of sound as a singer, Naruka said sudden loss of hearing can't be career specific.

"We understand the world by three senses: hearing, vision and touch. After these come the other two senses of taste and smell, but they are not as important as the first three. To communicate better in the world, we need good hearing, vision and good understanding of touch." As a precaution, however, Naruka asked people to avoid noise pollution or trauma.

"Using hearing devices like bluetooth, iPods, and loudspeakers for longer periods of time can give you sudden hearing loss. A viral fever and/or an ear infection can lead to hearing loss. We must avoid sound exposure for sure," he added.

Soon after her post went viral, Yagnik's colleagues singers Sonu Nigam, Shankar Mahadevan, Ila Arun as well as veteran actor Poonam Dhillon wished her a speedy recovery. "I had a feeling something was wrong... I'll visit you once I return... May you recover quickly by God's grace," Nigam commented on Yagnik's post.

Mahadevan said, "Praying for your speedy recovery Alkaji !! You are going to be absolutely ok and rocking as usual! Loads of love and best wishes." Arun said she is confident that Yagnik will recover with the help of "blessings and today's best doctors". "Soon we will be hearing your sweet voice. Love you always take care," she added.

"So much Love for you & so many Duas and blessings. You will get all the power of love to heal and be your beautiful Healthy self soon. Love you," said Dhillon.

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