Losing one of your senses needs to be addressed urgently,
because once lost, it might not come back. The sudden loss of hearing in one
ear should be treated as a medical emergency.
Over 66,000 NEW cases of Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural
Hearing Loss (ISSHL) present every year in the United States.
This is defined as a loss of greater
than 30 decibels over 3 contiguous frequencies over a 72-hour period. The ENT literature says that between 1/3 to
2/3 of patient will have spontaneous recovery, but many of these only regained
50% of their previous hearing. Prompt
and aggressive treatment is appropriate to salvage as much hearing as possible.
Treatment usually involves steroids, either intravenous, oral,
or intratympanic injections, or a combination of these. Adding hyperbaric
oxygen therapy has been shown to improve outcomes. A recent study showed that
patients that had combination therapy of steroids and hyperbaric oxygen had a
61% higher chance of achieving complete hearing recovery than those that just
got steroids. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/article-abstract/2704029
Why would HBOT help? One of the causes for sudden hearing
loss may be due to a lack of oxygen to the cochlea. Hyperbaric oxygen is
designed to increase the amount of oxygen that is dissolved in the plasma and
increases the available oxygen to the ear and the brain.
Multiple studies have affirmed that starting hyperbaric
oxygen therapy early in the course of this disease confers better benefits.
Both the Cochrane Review
and the clinical practice guidelines of
the American academy of Otolaryngology-head and Neck Surgery https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0194599812436449
include hyperbaric oxygen as a reasonable addition to steroid therapy.
Almost all studies that have researched the combination of
hyperbaric oxygen and steroids in sudden hearing loss recommend early
implementation of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Many insurance carriers are starting to cover this
therapeutic option, but even if the plan does not cover it, you should consider
starting hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Most
patients started to see clinical benefit within 2 weeks or 10 treatments,
although some needed up to 20 to achieve the best outcomes.
Thomas H., and Jeffrey P. Harris. “Incidence of sudden sensorineural
hearing loss.” Otology & Neurotology 34.9 (2013): 1586-1589.
T, Hwang D, Lee J, Park J, Lee JM. Addition of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy vs
Medical Therapy Alone for Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss: A
Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg.
MH, Kertesz T, Perleth M, Yeung P, Lehm JP. Hyperbaric oxygen for idiopathic
sudden sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus. Cochrane Database of Systematic
Reviews 2012, Issue 10
Robert J., et al. “Clinical practice guideline: sudden hearing loss.”
Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery 146.3_suppl (2012): S1-S35.