What is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is defined as a hearing loss of at least 30 decibels at three connected frequencies. The symptom may occur quickly or within three days period. In 90% of all cases, the condition affects only one ear. The severity of hearing loss varies from one patient to another. This type of hearing loss is more surround than conductive hearing loss, and it usually affects only certain vacancies. Even when wearing a hearing aid the person affected by sensorineural hearing loss may still have great difficulty in hearing certain sounds.

Causes of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss:

Although there are 100 possible causes of sudden deafness but only 10 to 15 percent of patients with SSHL know what caused their loss. Some of the possible causes include bacterial (eg meningitis and syphilis) and viral (eg mumps, cytomegalovirus, or varicella) infection, circulatory problems, inner ear problem like relation to disorder such as Meneire's disease, neoplastic, traumatic, metabolic, neurological causes such as multiple sclerosis, Trauma such as head injury, immunologic disease such as Cogan's syndrome, toxic causes such as snake bite, ototoxic drugs, and other unknown causes.

Diagnosis of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss:

Evaluation usually begins with careful study of patient's history and by physical examination looking for potential infectious causes and exposure to ototoxic drugs. In essence, SHL is diagnosed by documenting a recent decline in hearing. This generally requires an audiogram. Blood samples are also taken for detecting presence of other disease such as syphilis, Lyme disease, and circulatory disorder.

Treatment of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss:

Due to lack of definite cause of sudden hearing loss its treatment is controversial. Over the years its treatment included systemic steroids, antiviral medications, vasodilators, carbogen therapy, either (alone or combination) or no treatment at all.