September 22, 2005
UCSD Begins Sudden Deafness Study
UCSD Department of Otolaryngology, in conjunction with eight other medical centers around the country, is conducting research on treatments for sudden deafness, known clinically as sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL). SSNHL is new onset hearing loss in one ear that develops within a 72-hour period or less.
The condition affects between five and 20 per 100,000 individuals every year, and about 52,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. Though physicians theorize the condition might be caused by a virus infection, there is no obvious cause for the majority of cases of SSNHL.
Symptoms of SSNHL include hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and possibly dizziness or vertigo. A feeling of ear fullness is also a common symptom of the condition. The fact that ear fullness is a common sensation can cause people to delay seeking medical attention. However, SSNHL is potentially reversible and immediate recognition is critical, as delay in treatment may result in permanent hearing loss.
Presently, there are two treatments for SSNHL: administration of oral steroids and injection of steroids directly into the ear, known as intratympanic (IT) therapy. Though both treatments have benefited patients in varying degrees, only 13 randomized controlled studies have been conducted on treatments for SSNHL and only oral steroid treatment has been shown to have a definite benefit. No well-designed studies have been done to prove the benefit of IT steroids.
The current study, a randomized controlled clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Health (NIH) Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH–NIDCD), seeks to examine the effectiveness of IT steroid treatment for SSNHL, and compare its benefits and risks to conventional oral steroid therapy.
Moreover, publication of the study will create raised awareness of SSNHL, resulting in the possibility of earlier evaluation and diagnosis, and higher treatment success rates.
For more information call Sherrie Glassmeyer at 858-657-6836.
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News Media Contact Jeffrey Itrich 619-543-6163
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