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Clinical Challenges
September 2000

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss: A Viral Etiology?

Author Affiliations


Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2000;126(9):1164-1165. doi:10.1001/archotol.126.9.1164

Drs Eisenman and Arts have provided an excellent summary of the available literature on the treatment of SSNHL. They conclude, based primarily on the compelling study by Wilson et al,1 that administration of corticosteroids soon after the onset of hearing loss improves outcome for patients with specific audiometric profiles. Successful treatment of any disorder is dependent on an understanding of the underlying pathophysiologic characteristics, but in the case of SSNHL, etiology is incompletely understood. While corticosteroid-mediated anti-inflammatory effects are not disease specific, a subset of patients is clearly benefited by such treatment. Based on the literature cited, corticosteroid treatment of SSNHL should be considered the current standard of care in otolaryngologic practice for patients with no contraindications to steroid treatment. Clinical trials designed to evaluate other potential treatments for this disorder should include corticosteroid treatment in all arms of the study. It would be difficult to argue effectively for a "nontreatment" or "placebo-only" control.

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