Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is an uncommon condition that many clinicians working outside ENT or audiology will infrequently encounter. However it is crucial that patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss are identified as early as possible, and urgently referred to an ENT team for assessment and treatment. Early treatment with steroid is thought to improve the chances of hearing recovery.
If you are reviewing a patient with sudden hearing loss a simple tuning fork test or ‘hum test’ may be used as a screening tool to identify patients with conductive hearing loss who do not require urgent referral. The test can be found in app stores as “STARFISH Hearing Screening App”, or alternatively a website version is available.
If you suspect a patient has sudden hearing loss they should be urgently referred to their local ENT on-call team. We advise not starting oral steroids before a patient is assessed by ENT. Once a sensorineural hearing loss has been confirmed the patient may be invited to the STARFISH trial if they are seen at a participating site.
If you are apart of a team already delivering the STARFISH trial, key documents and other material can be found here.