Risk of developing sudden sensorineural hearing loss in patients with hepatitis B virus infection: A population-based study

Ear Nose Throat J. Oct-Nov 2018;97(10-11):E19-E27.


Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) has significant impact on quality of life. It may result from viral infection, but the relationship between hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and SSNHL remains uncertain. To investigate the risk of developing SSNHL in patients with HBV, we conducted a nationwide, population-based, retrospective cohort study from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. A total of 33,234 patients diagnosed with HBV infection and 132,936 control subjects without viral hepatitis were selected from claims made from 2000 to 2008. Each patient was followed for at least 5 years to identify new-onset SSNHL. Among the 166,170 patients, 279 patients (303,793 person-years) from the HBV cohort and 845 patients (1,225,622 person-years) from the control cohort were diagnosed with SSNHL. The incidence of SSNHL was 1.33-fold higher in the HBV group than in the control group (0.92 vs. 0.69 per 10,000 person-years), with an adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of 1.315 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.148 to 1.506) calculated using a Cox proportional hazard regression model. We also observed that HBV patients in the 50 to 64 years of age subgroup showed the highest incidence of SSNHL and the highest adjusted hazard ratio (HR = 2.367; 95% CI = 1.958 to 2.861). Patients with HBV infection had a higher risk of acquiring SSNHL than patients without viral hepatitis. For the early detection and timely treatment of SSNHL, clinicians should be aware of the increased risk of SSNHL in HBV patients and arrange auditory examinations for those complaining about acute hearing change.