Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is a rapid loss of (inner ear) hearing ability and should be treated as a medical emergency. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve, but unlike labyrinthitis, patients with SSHL do not suffer vertigo. According to its classic definition, SSHL develops within 3 days and only one ear is affected > 90% of the time. This disease can have many causes including infection, trauma, vascular problems, neurological diseases, & retrocochlear mass lesions; however, most often, SSHL remains idiopathic (cause unknown). While autoimmune ear disease, ototoxic medications, and systemic diseases can initially present with single sided hearing loss, they typically progress to affecting both ears within a few weeks to months.
When patients experience a sudden change in auditory function, a skilled ear exam and comprehensive audiogram are required as soon as possible. It is critical that the type of hearing loss (conductive, sensorineural, or mixed) be defined rapidly so that appropriate workup and treatment can be initiated.
Why Choose Us
- Dr. Abraham Jacob, Medical Director for Ear & Hearing (E&H) at the Center for Neurosciences (CNS), is fellowship trained in Otology, Neurotology, and Cranial Base Surgery. He is the first and most experienced Neurotologist in Tucson.
- Dr. Jacob was a founding member of the University of Arizona (UA) Department of Otolaryngology prior to his departure and transition to CNS. At UA, he was Vice Chair of ENT and held the rank of full Professor with Tenure. He has an international reputation as an expert for treating ear diseases.
- Dr. Jacob transitioned his practice to the Center for Neurosciences in early 2017 as he felt that the new environment helped him to optimize delivery of personalized ear and lateral skull base care.
- At E&H, single sided SSHL is evaluated by comprehensive otologic history, thorough microscope examination of the ears, laboratory testing as indicated, and an MRI Brain with IAC Protocol (to rule out retrocochlear pathologies). The mainstay of treatment is use of steroids, and depending on the clinical situation, oral steroids, intra-tympanic steroids, or both may be recommended. Steroids have been shown to increase the odds of hearing recovery for the affected ear; however, not all patients recover. Therefore, audiologists at E&H offer a variety of aural rehabilitation options such as state-of-the-art hearing aids and a variety of implantable hearing devices. Dr. Jacob, as the most experienced ear surgeon in Tucson, tailors the most complete and customized diagnostic/therapeutic plan for his patients.