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Hearing loss: Tinnitus

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in the treatment of Tinnitus

Sudden deafness is defined as a unilateral sensori-neural hearing loss that develops over a few hours or a few days. It can be accompanied with tinnitus (in 70% cases) and mild or transient vertigo with nausea and vomiting (in 40% cases).

Hearing change could be due to more than 100 reasons and most common are: Vascular problems (thromboembolic disease, hypertension and microcirculation disturbance); Infection (bacterial or viral); Metabolic disorders (diabetes and hyperlipidemia); Ototoxic drugs; Barotrauma (rupture of tympanic membrane); Acute acoustic trauma (due to gunfire or explosion); Meniere’s disease, acoustic neurinoma due to a compression of vestibulocochlear nerve, head injury etc.

If usual standard treatment i.e. steroid therapy is not effective a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO) is considered. One of common reasons of hearing loss is caused by the “hair cell” damage (swelling and degeneration) due to occlusion of blood supply and reduction of blood flow and oxygen concentration to the ear, which is most effectively addressed with HBO. However, hearing loss, dizziness and tinnitus from other etiology are also improving during and after HBO.

Most clinical studies show excellent results with improvement of tinnitus within first 30 days of the onset. A minimum of 15 and up to 30 hyperbaric sessions of 90 minutes at pressures of up to 2.5 ATA (15 meters depth) are needed for successful outcomes. With longer times after the injury the effect of HBO is lower and more sessions may be needed.

Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen in treatment of hearing loss are:

  • Restoration of oxygen concentration and blood flow to the inner ear for enhanced healing
  • Improved microcirculation of ear cochlea reducing tinnitus, hearing loss and vertigo
  • Minimizing the need for medications and their side effects
  • Increasing the efficiency of antibiotic and steroid therapy when needed
  • Improved general health
Further reading:
  1. Colombari GC, Rossato M, Feres O, Hyppolito MA.: Effects of hyperbaric oxygen treatment on auditory hair cells after acute noise damage.; Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2011 Jan;268(1):49-56. Epub 2010 Jul 21.
  2. Kerstin Lamm: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for the Treatment of Acute Cochlear Disorders and Tinnitus; ORL 2003; 65:315–316
  3. Almeling M, Welslau W, BohmF, Brinkmann U, Lerch M: HBO- treatment of negative selected patient with sudden deafness and tinnitus: a prospective multicenterstudy. Underwater and hyperbaric medicine abstract from the literature 16(3):213,2001
  4. Bohmer D: Treating Tinnitus with Hyperbaric Oxygenation. Int Tinnitus J; 3(2):137-140, 1997
  5. Delb W, Muth CM, Hoppe U, Iro H: Outcome of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in therapy refractory tinnitus, HNO; 47(12):1038-45, Dec 1999
  6. Fattori B, De Iaco G, Vannucci G, Casani A, Ghilardi PL: Alternobaric and hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the immediate and long-term treatment of Meniere’s disease. Audiology; 35(6):322-34, Nov-Dec 1996
  7. Jain KK: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in otolaryngology. Ch29 in Textbook of Hyperbaric medicine; Hogrefe Huber Publishers. Inc, Lewiston, NY;3rd Edition pp:490-503, 1999
  8. Joachims HZ, Monies-Chass I, Eliachar I. Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of sudden deafness. Harefuah. 1; 95(7):202-3, Oct 1978
  9. Nakashima T, Fukuta S, Yanagita N. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for sudden deafness. Adv Otorhinolaryngol.;54:100-9,1998
  10. Oriani G: Acute indications of HBO therapy- final report. from Handbook on Hyperbaric medicine edt by Oriani G, Marroni A, Wattel F; Publ: Springer, Italy, pp 99-109, 1996
  11. Tan J, Tange RA, Dreschler WA, vd Kleij A, Tromp EC. Long-term effect of hyperbaric oxygenation treatment on chronic distressing tinnitus. Scand Audiol; 28(2):91-6, 1999.
  12. Demaertelaere L, Van Opstal M. Treatment of acoustic trauma with hyperbaric oxygen; Acta Otorhinolaryngol Belg.;35(3-4):303-14, 1981.
  13. Holub M, Svacinka J. Results of the hyperbaric oxygen therapy in lesions of the organ of corti. Cesk Otolaryngol. 1971 Jun;20(3):108-11.
  14. Lamm K, Lamm H, Arnold W. Effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in comparison to conventional or placebo therapy or no treatment in idiopathic sudden hearing loss, acoustic trauma, noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. A literature survey. Adv Otorhinolaryngol. 1998;54:86-99. Review.
  15. Pilgramm M, Schumann K. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for acute acoustic trauma. Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 1985;241(3):247-57.
  16. Pilgramm M, Lamm H, Schumann K. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in sudden deafness. Laryngol Rhinol Otol (Stuttg). 1985 Jul;64(7):351-4.
  17. Schumann K, Lamm K, Hettich M. Effect and effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in chronic hearing disorders. Report of 557 cases 1989]. HNO. 1990 Nov;38(11):408-11.
  18. Temmel AF, Kierner AC, Steurer M, Riedl S, Innitzer J. Hearing loss and tinnitus in acute acoustic trauma. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1999 Nov 12;111(21):891-3.
  19. Vavrina J, Muller W. Therapeutic effect of hyperbaric oxygenation in acute acoustic trauma. Rev Laryngol Otol Rhinol (Bord). 1995;116(5):377-80.

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Dennis and Wendy R.  Vancouver

“My wife and I had a very unexpected gift from her oxygen treatment at the BaroMedical Clinic.

After several weeks of oxygen therapy, her tinnitus reduced in volume and for the first time in several years she has not complained about the noise in her ears. This is a very welcomed addition to the general increased in the quality of life that she has gained from the oxygen treatment.

I would like to add that the staff at BaroMedical are incredibly knowledgeable and kind.

My only regret is that I didn't start oxygen treatment a year or two earlier.” 

Proudly serving Metro Vancouver and British Columbians with hyperbaric oxygen services and wound care since 1999

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 Information contained on this site is intended for general consumer understanding and education. It should not be used as a substitute for any medical professional opinion, advice or prescribed medication nor should it serve as diagnosis or treatment of health problems.