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February 1978

Reversible Sudden Deafness in Early Acquired Syphilis

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otolaryngology (Dr Balkany) and Medicine (Dr Dans), University of Colorado Medical Center, Denver. Dr Dans is now a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Science Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Arch Otolaryngol. 1978;104(2):66-68. doi:10.1001/archotol.1978.00790020008002

• Although congenital syphilis is a well established cause of hearing loss, early acquired syphilis is frequently overlooked in the differential diagnosis of sensorineural deafness. This is due, in part, to a decrease in the incidence of syphilis and to the advent of penicillin in previous years which reduced this complication to a clinical rarity.

However, with the increase in new cases of syphilis in the past decade, early acquired syphilitic deafness is being seen with increasing frequency. Along with it is the syndrome of early syphilitic meningitis with sudden sensorineural deafness.

This potentially reversible condition should be considered in sexually active patients in whom sudden deafness develops. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for maximum recovery of hearing.

(Arch Otolaryngol 104:66-68, 1978)

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