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Bilateral sudden sensorineural hearing loss: review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 December 2013

S A Sara*
Affiliation:
Department of Otolaryngology, Head, Neck and Skull Base Surgery, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia Ear Sciences Centre, School of Surgery, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
B M Teh
Affiliation:
Ear Sciences Centre, School of Surgery, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia Otolaryngology Department, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Ear Science Institute Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
P Friedland
Affiliation:
Department of Otolaryngology, Head, Neck and Skull Base Surgery, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia Ear Sciences Centre, School of Surgery, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia Ear Science Institute Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
*
Address for correspondence: Dr Sergio A Sara, Department of Otolaryngology, Head, Neck and Skull Base Surgery, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Hospital Av, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia E-mail: Sergio.Sara@health.wa.gov.au

Abstract

Introduction:

Unilateral and bilateral sudden sensorineural hearing loss represent different disease entities. The unilateral condition is more common and predominantly idiopathic, and up to 65 per cent of patients spontaneously recover hearing. Conversely, the bilateral condition is rare, mostly associated with serious systemic conditions, and has a higher prevalence of morbidity and mortality.

Methods:

A literature search using the PubMed database was conducted using the MeSH terms ‘sudden’, ‘bilateral’ and ‘sensorineural hearing loss’.

Results:

One hundred and three reported cases of bilateral sudden sensorineural hearing loss were identified. The condition is most often associated with toxic, autoimmune, neoplastic and vascular conditions. A younger age of onset, with a bimodal age distribution, was seen for bilateral sudden sensorineural hearing loss, compared with the unilateral condition. Patients with the bilateral condition had more profound hearing loss, with poorer recovery and a 35 per cent mortality rate. Vestibular symptoms were also less common than in the unilateral condition.

Conclusion:

The presentation of bilateral sudden onset sensorineural hearing loss is a medical emergency requiring thorough and urgent investigation to exclude life-threatening and reversible conditions.

Type
Review Articles
Copyright
Copyright © JLO (1984) Limited 2013 

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Footnotes

Presented at the Australian Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Annual Scientific Meeting, 16–20 March 2013, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

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