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Sensorineural hearing loss, or nerve-related deafness, is a sudden or rapidly progressive loss of hearing related to problems with the inner ear and the nerves that connect the ear to the brain.

Sudden hearing loss is commonly defined as a reduction in sound volume greater than 30 dB (decibels) across three connected frequencies in a 72-hour period.

Doctors and patients cannot usually pinpoint a specific cause for sensorineural hearing loss. Researchers have confirmed a strong association with circulatory problems or lack of oxygen in the inner ear.

Other possible causes include heredity, viral and bacterial infection, toxins, growths or tumors, poor nutrition, injury or trauma, nervous system disorders, and exposure to loud noise.

As many as 20 per 100,000 people per year experience sensorineural hearing loss. Nearly all cases (9 in 10) involve only one ear. Hearing loss is often accompanied by dizziness or ringing in the ear (tinnitus).

Many recover without treatment, but swift medical attention increases the chances for partial or full restoration of hearing.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is indicated for the treatment of idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss.

Idiopathic means the exact cause is unknown. Sudden means the loss develops all at once or over a few days.

HBOT increases oxygen tension in the blood and tissues and dissolves extra oxygen in the blood plasma to better supply the structures, fluids, and nerves of the inner ear.

Physicians may prescribe HBOT in conjunction with corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and swelling helping this way the recovery of the nerve..