JOURNAL ARTICLE

Pure-tone and speech audiometry in patients with Menière's disease

D J Mateijsen, P W Van Hengel, W M Van Huffelen, H P Wit, F W Albers
Clinical Otolaryngology and Allied Sciences 2001, 26 (5): 379-87
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The aim of this study was to reinvestigate many of the claims in the literature about hearing loss in patients with Menière's disease. We carried this out on a well-defined group of patients under well-controlled circumstances. Thus, we were able to find support for some claims and none for many others. As part of a diagnostic protocol, pure-tone and speech audiometry was performed on 111 patients with Menière's disease according to the 'Definition Menière Groningen'. This was a prospective clinical cohort study. Affected ears of patients suffering from Menière's disease show reduced hearing, both in pure-tone and in speech audiometry. A classification method was devised to determine audiogram shape in an objective manner. The results of this method indicate that affected ears more frequently show 'low' or 'low + high' hearing losses (P = 0.006). The shape of the hearing loss does not depend on the duration of the affection of the disease. In combination with the fact that the average hearing loss does not correlate with the duration of the disease, this leads to the conclusion that, if a classification of the hearing loss in Menière's disease is possible, such a classification cannot be connected to the duration. This conclusion is further supported by the fact that no relationship is found between the duration of the disease and the classification of the hearing loss over the 3 months before hospital admission, as given by the patients in a questionnaire. A relationship between the (objective) audiometric data and the (subjective) classification of the hearing loss by the patient seems to be present, but is not very strong. Correlations between pure-tone and speech audiometry are present as in non-Menière ears (r = 0.899, P < 0.001), and no indications are found of reduced speech discrimination relative to the expectation based on pure-tone loss. The audiogram shape does not appear to play any additional role in speech discrimination (in addition to the influence of the average pure-tone loss).

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