What Is Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss


As the name may suggest, Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (ISSNHL) is a type of hearing loss that occurs suddenly. Being of a sensorineural nature, this hearing loss stems from anomalies within the sensory region of the ear (the inner ear, cochlear nerve or vestibulocochlear nerve). Most concerningly, the ‘idiopathic’ portion of the condition indicates that there is no identifiable cause for this type of hearing loss. Understandably, this is a worrying phenomenon, especially for those that experience it. So, how is it diagnosed?


You May Have ISSNHL If…

You have experienced hearing loss of 30 decibels (dB) or more over at least three audible frequencies with an onset of fewer than three days. For reference, the volume of a normal conversation is about 60 dB, so with a loss of 30 dB, it’s quite a noticeable difference. Further, the human ear can hear frequencies between 20 hertz (Hz) to 20 kilohertz (kHz), so three frequencies make quite a difference as well.

This condition currently affects 5–20 people in 100,000, making it quite a common form of hearing loss. While it’s not clear what causes ISSNHL, some proposed theories include vascular compromise, labyrinthine membrane ruptures, or a viral infection of the cochlea. What is known, however, is that the common effects of ISSNHL include a loss of hair cells and supporting cells of the organ of Corti, loss of the tectorial membrane, loss of stria vascularis, and loss of cochlear neurons.

How is ISSNHL treated?

ISSNHL occurs quickly and also needs to be quickly treated. For an individual’s best chance at maximum hearing recovery, it’s important to see a specialist immediately. Most cases show that if treated with a high dose of oral prednisolone early, patients can improve their hearing outcome. Of course, there are tests that must be conducted prior to getting to this point so speed and urgency is needed.

Concerned About Your Hearing?

If you’ve experienced changes in your hearing lately, it’s a good idea to get your hearing tested. It’s a quick and easy process, and it’s completely painless. Not sure if you really need to? Check out Attune’s quick online quiz that can tell you if it’s time to book yourself a hearing appointment.

Attune is Australia’s leading independent provider of hearing healthcare services. Trust Attune to look after your hearing. To book an appointment today, call Attune on 1300 736 702.


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