Feature Article

A guide to sudden hearing loss

Nigel DW Biggs



Appropriate history taking, examination and minimal investigation can usually determine the cause of sudden hearing loss. Two of the more common causes that are not related to trauma are sudden sensorineural hering loss and serous otitis media.

Key Points

  • History and examination can usually determine the nature of the sudden hearing loss.
  • Patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) require immediate treatment for the best outcome.
  • Oral corticosteroids are the most effective treatment for SSNHL.
  • Patients with SSNHL require MRI of the internal auditory meati.
  • Patients with unilateral middle ear effusions require nasopharyngeal examination to exclude nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
  • Patients with severe unilateral sensorineural hearing loss may benefit from a bone-anchored hearing aid.