A new guideline to improve implementation and awareness on sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) has been issued by The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation and published in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. SSNH affects five to 27 per 100,000 people annually, with about 66,000 new cases per year in the United States.
"SHL is defined as a rapid-onset subjective sensation of hearing impairment in one or both ears. The hearing loss in SHL may be a conductive hearing loss (CHL), sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), or mixed hearing loss, defined as both CHL and SNHL occurring in the same ear. CHL and the conductive component of mixed hearing loss may be due to an abnormality in the ear canal, tympanic membrane (''ear drum''), or middle ear.
For most patients with SHL, their medical journey often starts at an emergency room, urgent care clinic or primary care physician's office, with dizziness present in 30 to 60 percent of cases. The initial recommendations of this guideline update address distinguishing SSNHL from CHL at the initial presentation with hearing loss. They also clarify the need to identify rare, nonidiopathic SSNHL to help separate those patients from those with idiopathic sensorineural hearing loss (ISSNHL), who are the target population for the therapeutic interventions that make up the bulk of the guideline update. By focusing on opportunities for quality improvement, this guideline should improve diagnostic accuracy, facilitate prompt intervention, decrease variations in management, reduce unnecessary tests and imaging procedures, and improve hearing and rehabilitative outcomes for impacted patients.