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Treatment of Long-term Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss as an Otologic Migraine Phenomenon.

Abstract

Objectives

To describe a cohort of patients presenting with long-term sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) treated with prophylactic migraine and intratympanic steroid therapy.

Methods

Patients presenting to a neurotology clinic at least 6 weeks from SSNHL onset were included. All patients received migraine prophylactic medication (nortriptyline, topiramate, and/or verapamil) and lifestyle changes for at least 6 weeks, as well as intratympanic steroid injections, if appropriate.

Results

Twenty-one patients (43% female) with a mean age of 64 ± 11 years who presented 9 ± 8 months (median = 5) from symptom onset were included. Posttreatment hearing thresholds were significantly improved compared with pretreatment thresholds at 500 Hz (49 ± 19 dB versus 55 ± 20 dB, p = 0.01), 1000 Hz (52 ± 19 dB versus 57 ± 21 dB, p = 0.03), low-frequency pure-tone average (53 ± 15 dB versus 57 ± 17 dB, p = 0.01), and speech-frequency pure-tone average (57 ± 13 dB versus 60 ± 15 dB, p = 0.02). Posttreatment word-recognition-score (WRS) and speech-recognition-threshold (SRT) were also significantly improved (45 ± 28% versus 70 ± 28% and 57 ± 18 dB versus 50 ± 16 dB, respectively, both p < 0.01). Notably, ≥15% improvement in WRS and ≥10 dB improvement in SRT was observed in 13 (68%) and 8 (40%) patients, respectively. Of the 11 patients who presented with initial < 50% WRS, 8 (73%) had improved posttreatment >50% WRS with an average improvement of 39 ± 9%.

Conclusions

Migraine medications in addition to intratympanic steroid injections significantly improved SRT and hearing frequencies in 40% and 29% of SSNHL patients, respectively, while significant WRS recovery was observed in most (68%) patients. This suggests SSNHL may be an otologic migraine phenomenon, which may be at least partially reversible even after the traditional 30-day postonset window.

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