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Analysis of steroids for treating sudden hearing loss
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September 28, 2009  |  Posted in  Steroids Blog

Analysis of steroids for treating sudden hearing lossThough steroids are accepted as the most widely used form of treatment when it comes to sudden hearing loss, there is very little scientific evidence to suggest that their use can be effective, as per a systematic review and meta-analysis both published in the June issue of Archives of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery.

Sudden hearing loss or sudden sensorineural hearing loss is an acute hearing impairment that involves loss of at least 30 decibels of hearing over a minimum three test frequencies happening within a matter of three days, as per the background information in the article. The condition affects 5-20 out of every 100,000 individuals on a yearly basis.

From News-Medical.Net:

Treatment varies widely and includes antiviral medications, vitamins, minerals, herbs, hyperbaric oxygen and agents that dilute the blood. “In addition, some otolaryngologists choose not to treat sudden sensorineural hearing loss at all, citing spontaneous recovery rates of 32 percent to 70 percent,” the authors write. “However, the most common approach to treatment of sudden sensorineural hearing loss in North America is with systemic steroids, which has been deemed by some authors to be the gold standard of treatment.”

Anne Elizabeth Conlin, B.A. & Sc., M.D., of the University of Ottawa, Ontario, and Lorne S. Parnes, M.D., F.R.C.S.C., of the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada, searched for all randomized clinical trials evaluating treatments for sudden hearing loss published between 1966 and 2006.

For the systematic review, 21 trials were identified and evaluated, all of which used measures from hearing tests to define treatment outcomes. “Only two studies used identical criteria to define sudden sensorineural hearing loss,” the authors write. “The method of randomization was described in two studies. Validity scores ranged from two to eight (of nine). Positive results were reported favoring systemic steroids, intratympanic [inside the inner ear] steroids, batroxobin, magnesium, vitamin E and hyperbaric oxygen, although there were serious limitations in each study with a positive finding.”

It was remarked that treatment of sudden hearing loss is difficult at times as the cause is often unknown and this impairment can be termed as a medical emergency without a scientific understanding of its cause.

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