OUR STUDY IS NOW CLOSED, BUT IF YOU HAVE SUDDEN HEARING LOSS IN ONE EAR YOU SHOULD SEEK CARE AT YOUR LOCAL OTOLARYNGOLOGY / AUDIOLOGY OFFICE
is sudden sensorineural hearing loss?
is intratympanic steroid therapy? (Flash video)
centers around the U.S. initially participated in this clinical
study, and this was expanded to eight more centers in the U.S. and Canada.
Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland,
recruited the first patient for the SSNHL trial on Dec 22, 2004. We have recently completed the recruitment of patients for our study.
Hearing Loss is a Medical Emergency
What is sudden
sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL)?
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 SSNHL often wait before seeing a specialist?
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.
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, with gadolinium contrast, is also performed to exclude the presence of a cerebellopontine angle tumor, such as a vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma).
How is sudden sensorineural hearing loss treated?
Treatment with steroids 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.