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This clinical research study
is sponsored by the
NIDCD/NIH
Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss is a
Medical Emergency

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss
A typical patient loses his or her hearing in one
ear over a period of one to several days,
associated with a feeling of fullness in the ear, and
often tinnitus, or ringing of the involved ear.
There may be dizziness or vertigo. Occasionally,
the patient may report an upper respiratory
infection (cold symptoms) prior to the onset of the
hearing loss.


Why do patients with often wait before seeing
a specialist?


Unfortunately, many patients delay seeking care
by a specialist. The symptoms of decreased
hearing and fullness of the ear are often diagnosed
as a middle ear infection (otitis media) and so the
referral to an audiologist or otolaryngologist (ENT
specialist) is made too late. Or insurance issues
may prevent referral in a timely fashion to an ear
specialist.
A delay in treating this condition (2 weeks or
more after the symptoms first began) will decrease
the chance that medications might help improve
the hearing loss.


How is sudden sensorineural hearing loss diagnosed?
The diagnosis can only be made by specialized
hearing testing in a sound-proof chamber by an
audiologist. Pure-tone thresholds, speech
discrimination scores, acoustic reflex testing, and
distortion product otoacoustic emission testing, the
parts of a complete audiometric evaluation, are
performed to confirm the diagnosis of a sudden
sensorineural hearing loss.
A comprehensive evaluation by an
otolaryngologist (ENT) and an audiologist will
ensure that the loss is nerve-related, and not
due to fluid, infection, or a perforation, or hole
in the ear drum.
An MRI scan of the brain, is also performed to exclude the
presence of a cerebellopontine angle tumor, such
as a vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma).
with gadolinium contrast


How is sudden sensorineural hearing loss treated?

If you do have sudden sensorineural hearing
loss, treatment with steroids within the first 2
weeks of the symptoms provides the best
chance that some of the hearing may return.
The gold standard therapy is steroids by
mouth but several small studies have suggested
that steroids injected into the ear may be
beneficial.

 





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