Sensorineural hearing loss: a complication of acute otitis media in adults

Joo Hyun Park, Sung Joon Park, Young Ho Kim, Min-Hyun Park
European Archives of Oto-rhino-laryngology 2014, 271 (7): 1879-84
We aim to evaluate the incidence and clinical manifestations of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in adult patients with acute otitis media (AOM). Seventy-five patients (age > 18 years; 83 ears) diagnosed with AOM between January 2008 and March 2011 at our clinic were enroled and retrospectively reviewed. We detected audiometrically confirmed SNHL during the course of AOM in eight patients. The clinical course, treatment, and audiometric final outcome of each case were reviewed. SNHL was associated with AOM in 8 out of 83 ears (9.3%). The mean age of patients was 57.5 years, and the mean follow-up period was 21.1 months (range 0.6-46.3 months). The most common symptom was tinnitus. Mean bone conduction hearing threshold was 39.5 dB in pure tone audiometry. All patients showed high-frequency HL, and three showed pan-frequency HL. All patients were treated with oral antibiotics at the initial visit. Seven ears were treated with a combination of oral steroids. Myringotomy was also performed. Seven of eight patients showed improvement; however, 8 kHz thresholds were not improved. This suggested that the inflammation spread through the round window. The mean duration of recovery was 18.6 days. SNHL associated with AOM in adult patients occurs during the early phases of the disease course. High-frequency hearing was commonly affected and was well treated with oral antibiotics, myringotomy, and steroid therapy. Audiometry can be helpful for treating adult patients with AOM. Active treatment, including myringotomy, should be performed during the early phase, if SNHL is suspected.

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