Sudden hypoacusis treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy: a controlled study

Ear Nose Throat J. 2001 Sep;80(9):655-60.


The term sudden hypoacusis describes a hearing loss of rapid onset and unknown origin that can progress to severe deafness. Of the many therapeutic protocols that have been proposed for treating sudden hypoacusis, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HOT) plays a leading role. We studied 50 patients who had been referred to our ENT unit within 48 hours of the onset of sudden hypoacusis. We randomly assigned 30 of these patients to undergo once-daily administration of HOT for 10 days; the other 20 patients were treated for 10 days with an intravenous vasodilator. Response to therapy in all patients was evaluated by calculating the mean hearing threshold at frequencies between 500 and 4,000 Hz and by assessing liminal tonal audiometry results recorded at baseline and 10 days after the cessation of treatment. These results, plus the findings of other audiologic and otoneurologic examinations, revealed that the patients in the HOT group experienced a significantly greater response to treatment than did those in the vasodilator group, regardless of age and sex variables. Significantly more patients in the HOT group experienced a good or significant response. In both groups, patients with pantonal hypoacusis responded significantly better than did those with a milder condition. Based on our findings, coupled with the fact that oxygen therapy is well tolerated and produces no side effects, we conclude that HOT should be considered the preferred treatment for patients with sudden hypoacusis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Hearing Loss / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged