An investigation of the audiologic handicap associated with unilateral sudden sensorineural hearing loss.Am J Otol. 2000 Sep; 21(5):645-51.AJ
To determine the incidence of tinnitus and associated handicap after unilateral sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL); in addition, to determine the hearing handicap experienced as a consequence of such a loss.
Identification of patients and determination of demographic and audiologic data by retrospective case review; determination of handicap and distress by postal questionnaire.
Teaching hospital department of otolaryngology.
Thirty-eight patients were identified as having been treated for a unilateral sudden sensorineural hearing loss in the period 1988 through 1997. Of those, 21 (55.3%) replied to the questionnaire.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Audiometric data at admission and at 4-week follow-up, Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI), visual analogue scales of tinnitus loudness and distress, Hearing Handicap Inventory in Adults (HHIA).
The questionnaire responder group did not significantly differ from the questionnaire nonresponder group on demographic nor audiometric variables, and hence were considered to be a representative sample. Tinnitus was present in 14 patients (67%). Hearing handicap was found in 86% of patients (of the 21 questionnaire responders) and tinnitus handicap in 57% (of the 14 with tinnitus). Correlations were found between tinnitus loudness, distress, and handicap. There was no correlation between time elapsed since SSNHL and tinnitus or hearing handicap, nor was there a correlation between the extent of audiometric loss and hearing or tinnitus handicap. A strong negative correlation was, however, found between recovery in audiometry in the first 4 weeks after onset and tinnitus and hearing handicap. The audiometric status of the contralateral ear correlated with hearing handicap.
A majority of patients after unilateral SSNHL have a perceived handicap associated with tinnitus and hearing. Although this condition is an otologic emergency, careful thought should be given to the audiologic rehabilitation of this patient group.