Monday, April 23, 2012

The Washington Post on Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

For those who care, here is a Washington Post article on my ear condition. The main thing is for you to pray for me tomorrow morning as I have the procedure done to try to restore my hearing.

Medical Mysteries: Sudden hearing loss in one ear was no minor irritant

Here are some quotes:

Unlike conductive hearing loss, which affects the outer ear, sudden sensorineural hearing loss is an urgent medical problem that can range in severity from mild to profound. Curtis's was so severe it could have left him permanently and totally deaf in one ear. In most cases, including Curtis's, the cause is unknown; treatment with corticosteroids has demonstrated success in some patients. . . .

For reasons that are unclear, the window for effective treatment appears to be two to four weeks from the time a patient is aware of diminished hearing; after that, hearing loss can become permanent, writes Harvard professor of otolaryngology Steven D. Rauch in a 2008 article in the New England Journal of Medicine. Rauch reports that the malady affects men and women equally and typically occurs between the ages of 43 and 53. 

Some patients, he writes, never seek treatment and recover spontaneously, usually within 14 days. Prognosis depends on the severity of the problem: Patients with mild hearing loss are most likely to make a full recovery without treatment, while those with profound hearing loss, such as Curtis, rarely show spontaneous improvement. Even with treatment, which typically involves a few weeks of oral corticosteroids such as prednisone, some patients never recover their hearing.

Proof that treatment works remains ambiguous. A 2006 Cochrane Review, updated last year, found that one small study demonstrated that prompt treatment with steroids was linked to a significant improvement in hearing -- 61 percent of patients compared with 32 percent who took a placebo -- while another study failed to demonstrate a benefit. Both studies, researchers said, contained too few patients upon which to draw a firm conclusion.

Even so, most doctors prescribe prednisone for the problem because the potential benefits outweigh the risks of the drug.

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