Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSHL) is the newest indication approved by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society’s Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Committee. Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss appears to be characterized by hypoxia in the perilymph and therefore the scala tympani and the organ of Corti. A review of the literature reveals more than 100 publications evaluating the use of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) for the treatment of ISSHL, including eight randomized controlled trials.
The best and most consistent results are obtained when HBO2 is initiated within two weeks of symptom onset and combined with corticosteroid treatment. The average hearing gain is 19.3 dB for moderate hearing loss and 37.7 dB for severe cases. This improvement brings hearing deficits from the moderate/severe range into the slight/no impairment range. This is a significant gain that can markedly improve a patient’s quality of life, both clinically and functionally.
Murphy-Lavoie H, Piper S, Moon RE, Legros T. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2012 May-Jun;39(3):777-92. PMID: 22670557.