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uhf ssl-Hearing Injury

Ultra-High Frequency Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

By Dennis A. Colucci, AuD, MA



Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is defined as a change in hearing of 30 dB or more in at least three consecutive frequencies within a 72-hour period. Clinically, a lower threshold is used, especially if there are known risk factors. The presenting audiometric findings are typically unilateral and characterized as a low, high, or flat frequency response using audiometric frequencies between 125-8,000 Hz. The uncomfortable loudness levels (ULL) may or may not demonstrate hyperacusis. Tinnitus matching is typically measured at or below 8,000 Hz, particularly for tinnitus caused by noise-induced hearing loss, although tinnitus may occur above this range (Int Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2016;20[3]:248).


Remarkably, no systematic study using ultra-high frequency audiometry could be identified in the SSHL or tinnitus literature in the last five years. However, in the case presented herein, an extended frequency evaluation revealed an uncommon result worthy of examination. Although immediate air and bone conduction audiometric testing is paramount in the diagnosis of SSHL, it is also used to measure the outcome of medical treat- ments or spontaneous recovery, and in planning rehabilitation (Hearing Journal. 2013;66[4]:44). Ultra-high frequency testing may provide a wider range of understanding of patient complaints in the absence of hearing loss using standard audiometry.

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