TORONTO-Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) has stumped otolaryngologists for decades. Despite much attention, even a definitive definition of the malady escapes researchers, making successful therapies even harder to uncover.
Explore this issue:December 2006
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 4000 new cases of SSHL occur each year in the United States. It can affect anyone, but for unknown reasons it happens most often to people between the ages of 30 and 60. In an effort to spur discussion and a possible movement toward consensus, an international panel gathered to examine the epidemiology of SSHL and discuss traditional treatment modalities at the recent American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) annual meeting here.The experts also wheeled out some of the more promising research and cutting-edge treatment modalities available.
What Is SSHL?
While SSHL characterizations remain varied, the NIH defines the condition as an idiopathic hearing loss of sensorineural origin, greater than 30 dB in three contiguous frequencies that occurs in less than three days. Session moderator Commander Michael E. Hoffer, MD, of the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, said that, in addition, the root causes of SSHL could be broken into two separate types-idiopathic and direct effect.