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Sensorineural sudden hearing loss (SSNHL) refers to a rapid-onset hearing impairment resulting from damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. While the exact cause of SSNHL is often unknown, it is believed to involve factors such as impaired blood flow, inflammation, and oxidative stress in the cochlea (the sensory organ of hearing). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been explored as a potential treatment for SSNHL, and several mechanisms have been proposed to explain its potential benefits:

  1. Improved Oxygenation: HBOT involves breathing 100% oxygen in a pressurized chamber, which increases the amount of oxygen dissolved in the bloodstream. This hyperoxygenation can improve oxygen delivery to the damaged tissues of the inner ear, including the cochlea, where it may help restore cellular function and promote tissue repair.

  2. Reduced Inflammation: Inflammation is thought to play a role in the pathophysiology of SSNHL, contributing to tissue damage and impaired hearing function. HBOT has anti-inflammatory effects and can help reduce inflammation in the inner ear by modulating immune responses and suppressing the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. By mitigating inflammation, HBOT may help preserve auditory function and prevent further damage to the cochlea.

  3. Protection Against Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury: Ischemia-reperfusion injury occurs when blood flow to a tissue is temporarily restricted (ischemia) and then restored (reperfusion), leading to tissue damage due to oxidative stress and inflammation. HBOT can improve oxygen delivery to ischemic tissues, reducing the severity of ischemia-reperfusion injury and promoting tissue recovery. In the context of SSNHL, HBOT may help protect the cochlea from ischemic damage and enhance auditory recovery.

  4. Enhanced Neuronal Survival: HBOT may support the survival of sensory hair cells and auditory nerve fibers in the cochlea, which are essential for hearing function. By providing the necessary oxygen and metabolic support to these structures, HBOT may help prevent their degeneration and promote their regeneration, leading to improved auditory outcomes in individuals with SSNHL.

  5. Stimulation of Angiogenesis: HBOT has been shown to stimulate the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) in damaged tissues, including the cochlea. This increased vascularity can improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to the inner ear, facilitating tissue repair and regeneration. By promoting angiogenesis, HBOT may help restore normal auditory function in individuals with SSNHL.

 

 

For more information, please review the following article: 

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/2704029

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