Reversible hearing loss after meningitis. Prospective assessment using auditory evoked responses

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1984 May-Jun;93(3 Pt 1):229-32. doi: 10.1177/000348948409300308.


Hearing loss (HL) was prospectively studied in 236 children with meningitis using brainstem auditory evoked responses. Hearing loss was detected in 38 (16.1%) in the acute phase of the disease and in 10 (5.2%) of 193 patients who were tested 6 months later. Hearing loss was more frequent and more severe in patients with bacterial meningitis (25.4% in the acute phase, and 8% 6 months later) than in patients with viral and tuberculous meningitis. In half of the affected cases the auditory lesion was bilateral. Follow-up was possible in 32 patients with early postmeningitic HL. Ten (31.2%) had permanent HL while the remaining 22 (68.7%) recovered normal hearing. Severe initial losses tended to be permanent, whereas minimal and intermediate losses were generally reversible and patients recovered completely in 1 to 6 months. The high incidence of HL in bacterial meningitis suggests that any one of the existing methods of auditory screening should be performed in all patients during the convalescent period.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Audiometry*
  • Audiometry, Evoked Response*
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Brain Stem / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Disorders / etiology
  • Hearing Disorders / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Meningitis / complications*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors