Objectives: Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) remains a challenge for the clinician. In the majority of cases, no definite cause can be found and the prognosis is variable.
Methods: The present study assessed 114 patients suffering from idiopathic SSHL, with regard to the prognostic value of demographic, epidemiologic, neurotologic and audiometric factors. In addition, the relationship between the identification of wave V in auditory brainstem responses and the final hearing outcome was investigated. All patients received 75 mg/day intravenous prednisolone, divided into three daily doses, for 10 days, with gradual tapering of the dose over the next 10 days.
Results: The results (after one year follow up) revealed the following factors to be related to a better hearing outcome: younger age; male sex; less time elapsed between the onset of hearing loss and the beginning of treatment; and an upward-sloping or cupeloid audiogram contour. The detection of wave V early in recovery and within the first month of medical treatment might also constitute a significant favourable factor in respect to hearing recovery.
Conclusions: The present study revealed that there are certain factors that affect prognosis in idiopathic SSHL. This is very important in counselling patients and may affect current clinical practice.