Clinical Practice Guideline: Sudden Hearing Loss (Update)

Sujana S. Chandrasekhar, Betty S. Tsai Do, Seth R. Schwartz, Laura J. Bontempo, Erynne A. Faucett, Sandra A. Finestone, Deena B. Hollingsworth, David M. Kelley, Steven T. Kmucha, Gul Moonis, Gayla L. Poling, J. Kirk Roberts, Robert J. Stachler, Daniel M. Zeitler, Maureen D. Corrigan, Lorraine C. Nnacheta, Lisa Satterfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

378 Scopus citations


Objective: Sudden hearing loss is a frightening symptom that often prompts an urgent or emergent visit to a health care provider. It is frequently but not universally accompanied by tinnitus and/or vertigo. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss affects 5 to 27 per 100,000 people annually, with about 66,000 new cases per year in the United States. This guideline update provides evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis, management, and follow-up of patients who present with sudden hearing loss. It focuses on sudden sensorineural hearing loss in adult patients aged ≥18 years and primarily on those with idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Prompt recognition and management of sudden sensorineural hearing loss may improve hearing recovery and patient quality of life. The guideline update is intended for all clinicians who diagnose or manage adult patients who present with sudden hearing loss. Purpose: The purpose of this guideline update is to provide clinicians with evidence-based recommendations in evaluating patients with sudden hearing loss and sudden sensorineural hearing loss, with particular emphasis on managing idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss. The guideline update group recognized that patients enter the health care system with sudden hearing loss as a nonspecific primary complaint. Therefore, the initial recommendations of this guideline update address distinguishing sensorineural hearing loss from conductive hearing loss at the time of presentation with hearing loss. They also clarify the need to identify rare, nonidiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss to help separate those patients from those with idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss, 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 affected patients. Methods: Consistent with the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation’s “Clinical Practice Guideline Development Manual, Third Edition” (Rosenfeld et al. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013;148[1]:S1-S55), the guideline update group was convened with representation from the disciplines of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery, otology, neurotology, family medicine, audiology, emergency medicine, neurology, radiology, advanced practice nursing, and consumer advocacy. A systematic review of the literature was performed, and the prior clinical practice guideline on sudden hearing loss was reviewed in detail. Key Action Statements (KASs) were updated with new literature, and evidence profiles were brought up to the current standard. Research needs identified in the original clinical practice guideline and data addressing them were reviewed. Current research needs were identified and delineated. Results: The guideline update group made strong recommendations for the following: (KAS 1) Clinicians should distinguish sensorineural hearing loss from conductive hearing loss when a patient first presents with sudden hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S1-S45
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number1_suppl
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • evidence-based medicine
  • hyperbaric oxygen
  • intratympanic steroids
  • practice guidelines
  • sudden hearing loss
  • sudden sensorineural hearing loss


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