The Better to Hear You With, My Dear

Sudden hearing loss being treated with steroids

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Sudden hearing loss, the aptly named condition, is a devastating loss of hearing.  This disease occurs in a very abbreviated amount of time, usually less than 4 days. Sudden hearing loss is usually treated with a course of oral steroids.

A new treatment method of injecting steroids directly into the eardrum is now being used.  Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine wanted to compare which treatment option yielded better results for the patients.

"Oral and injectable steroid treatments for sudden hearing loss have identical results."

John Carey, M.D., a professor in the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine explains these injections are used because theoretically a heavier dose of steroids can be delivered to the site of the problem. 

According to Carey, this study indicates that for all but the most severely impaired SHL patients, oral and injected steroids are equally effective and are both nice options for patients.

The study compared patient results from oral steroid therapy and injectable steroid therapy. Oral steroid results averaged a 30.7 decibel improvement while injectable steroid results averaged a 28.7 decibel improvement in hearing. Those with extreme hearing loss did better with an oral course of steroids.

Carey notes both treatments have plusses and minuses. Oral steroid side effect include weight gain, blood sugar increase and insomnia. Pill form steroids are also less expensive and more convenient.

Steroid injections avoid those side effects but are more expensive, painful and not as convenient.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 24, 2011
Last Updated:
May 25, 2011