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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for the Treatment of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), also referred to as “sudden deafness” occurs without showing signs where one moves from perfect hearing to diminished to zero healing in a relatively short span. Most of the instances of idiopathic sudden deafness occur in about 72 hours (3 days). Statistically, the sudden deafness comprises the hearing loss of about 30 decibels. It results from damage of inner ear hair cells which are the sensory receptors located in the cochlea. The condition mostly occurs in slightly older individuals of about 40 years and above. Some of the symptoms of the condition include dizziness, vertigo, drowsiness, headaches, tinnitus, fullness/blockage sensation in the ear, and ringing sounds in one or both ears. The medical emergency could result in deafness if it is not taken care of in good time. Instances such as puncturing of the cochlear lining require fast action.

How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Works

HBOT has the effect of boosting perilymph oxygen tension thereby increasing the supply of oxygenated blood to the inner ear. This way, oxygen can reach the flawed physiological parts of the inner ear. Elevating the partial oxygen pressure in the cochlea is key for an organ that is among the most susceptible to hypoxia. The vasodilation that results from the application of HBOT causes the corti and cochlea to receive enough oxygenated blood which cancels out the sudden deafness caused by vasoconstriction and oxidative stress. The latter are among the most common causes of the sudden hearing loss. HBOT is quite effective in the treatment of SSHL which results from reduced blood flow in the inner parts of the ear. Sudden deafness is mostly treated using 10-20 sessions that last about 1.5 hours. Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) also has the effect of reducing inflammation that is associated with sudden hearing loss.

HBOT is highly compatible with other forms of treatment such as the use of corticosteroids. Patients who have used both HBOT and corticosteroids have recorded better results in their absolute hearing ability. It is recommended that the two forms of treatment are used together, especially in instances where the sudden deafness manifests between 2-4 weeks. HBOT also works well for patients whose bodies fail to respond to traditional forms of treatment. HBOT also boosts the immunity of the body and the inner ear in instances where the sudden hearing loss is caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Other common causes of SSHL include trauma to the body/head or a neurological malfunction. Some of the patients who have experienced sudden hearing loss have been treated for such diseases as Lyme, syphilis, lupus and Behcet, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis among others. Also, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is quite convenient compared to such remedies as the use of hearing aids. The aids which are quite costly have to be replaced every 3-5 years. Also, they do not give the users fully functional hearing; a certain proportion is left out.


Chin, C., Lee, T., Chen, Y., & Wu, M. (2022). Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss: Is hyperbaric oxygen treatment the sooner and longer, the better? Journal of Personalized Medicine, 12(10), 1652.

Eryigit, B., Ziylan, F., Yaz, F., & Thomeer, H. G. X. M. (2018). The effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen in patients with idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss: a systematic review. European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, 275(12), 2893–2904.

Živaljević, Z., Živić, L., Mihailović, N., Zivković, M., Vorkapic, B., & Baletić, N. (2017). Treatment of sudden sensorineural hearing loss with hyperbaric oxygenation - our experience. Vojnosanitetski Pregled, 74(2), 156–160.



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