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Did you know sudden hearing loss can lead to permanent deafness if not treated early? The more you delay your treatment process, the less likely you may recover from sudden hearing loss.

 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has proven to be an effective treatment in restoring hearing functions in patients. HBOT is an intensive medical treatment that has been used for decades due to its tremendous outcomes in patients with severe to profound hearing loss. In fact, several prospective randomized controlled trials reported that when people with severe hearing loss started hyperbaric oxygen therapy, they had a better effect on hearing gain and hearing recovery rate (5.034-fold greater improvement). Hence, if treated early, HBOT can restore hearing function from 25% to 65%.

 

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

Sudden hearing loss, also medically known as idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss, is a condition that causes the hearing on one side to go away suddenly. It can occur instantly within a few hours or continue over several days.  Annually, an estimated 4,000 adults (between the ages of 30 and 60) are diagnosed with sudden hearing loss in the United States. If not treated immediately, patients hearing can drop to 30 decibels, which means they hear normal speech like a whisper. 

 

 

Causes of Hearing Loss

Though the exact cause of sudden hearing loss is unclear, it can occur due to poor blood supply to the cochlea—a snail-like structure filled with fluid that contains the organ of Corti, the organ of hearing.

Other possible causes of hearing loss include:

  • Damage or disruption in the cochlear membrane

  • Inner-ear and central nervous system disorders

  • Viral and bacterial infections

  • Vascular disorder

  • Trauma or stroke

  • Toxins

  • Aging

 

Symptoms of Sudden Hearing Loss

Approximately, 9 out of 10 patients who experience sudden hearing loss only lose it in one ear.  Possible symptoms you may experience include:

  • Tinnitus (hearing ringing or buzzing sounds in the ear)

  • Dizziness

  • Vertigo 

  • Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds

 

 

How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Help?

Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy (HBOT) therapy increases the oxygen supply to the cochlea in the inner ear which improves hearing function. Cochlea demands high oxygen to work properly.

During HBOT therapy, you breathe a high oxygen concentration (100% pure) inside the pressurized chamber. The pressure in this chamber is about 2 to 3 times greater than what is normal. This high-pressure environment provides your lungs with more oxygen, which ultimately saturates your bloodstream, and, as a result, more oxygen is delivered to all body parts, including the ear.

 

HBOT revives your hearing functions in the following ways:

  • Improves the blood flow and oxygenation to your auditory structures, which helps reduce hearing loss symptoms

  • An increase in oxygen also helps your white blood cells fight infection

  • Promotes the healing of the damaged inner membrane or inner ear tissues through oxygenation

  • Reduces inflammation in the auditory structures

  • Promotes the release of growth factors, which helps in inner ear tissue regeneration and repair

  • Protects against oxidative stress that typically contributes to hearing loss.

 

Patients who fail to respond to traditional hearing loss treatment, such as intratympanic steroids, may benefit from hyperbaric oxygen treatment. The HBOT treatment plan for hearing loss depends on severity of the patient. Typically patient's can expect 60 to 120 minutes twice a day for one to two weeks. 

 

 

 

 

References

  1. Chin, C., Lee, T., Chen, Y., & Wu, M. (2022). Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment the Sooner and Longer, the Better? Journal of Personalized Medicine, 12(10), 1652. https://doi.org/10.3390/jpm12101652

  2. Halwani, C., Turki, S., & Gharsallah, H. (2021). Sudden deafness: The effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy combined to systemic corticosteroid treatment. La Tunisie MéDicale, 99(3), 358-362. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8724693/

  3. Ortega, M. A., Fraile-Martinez, O., García-Montero, C., Callejón-Peláez, E., Sáez, M. A., Álvarez-Mon, M. A., García-Honduvilla, N., Monserrat, J., Álvarez-Mon, M., Bujan, J., & Canals, M. L. (2021). A General Overview on the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Applications, Mechanisms and Translational Opportunities. Medicina, 57(9). https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina57090864

  4. Skarzynski, P. H., Kolodziejak, A., Gos, E., Skarzynska, M. B., Czajka, N., & Skarzynski, H. (2023). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy as an adjunct to corticosteroid treatment in sudden sensorineural hearing loss: a retrospective study. Frontiers in Neurology, 14, 1225135. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2023.1225135

  5. Murphy-Lavoie, H. M., & Mutluoglu, M. (2023). Hyperbaric treatment of sensorineural hearing loss. StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459160/

  6. Imsuwansri, T., Poonsap, P., & Snidvongs, K. (2012). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss after Failure from Oral and Intratympanic Corticosteroid. Clinical and Experimental Otorhinolaryngology, 5(Suppl 1), S99. https://doi.org/10.3342/ceo.2012.5.S1.S99

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