pressure/deafness (Andrew Bell )

Subject: pressure/deafness
From:    Andrew Bell  <andrew.bell(at)ANU.EDU.AU>
Date:    Fri, 20 Jun 2003 13:19:01 +1000

Susan Allen asked: >>> susan allen <susie(at)> 11:51:56 am Friday, 20 June 2003 >>> >I'm not a specialist, but is it then possible that elevated blood >pressure could contribute to deafness? Indeed, blood pressure can affect hearing. Although the effect is not normally a major one, in people suffering Meniere's disease an increase in pressure can trigger a full-blown attack. They tend to suffer low-tone fluctuating deafness, and significantly, the pitch is perceived higher in the affected ear. Subjectively, most patients report a feeling of "fullness" or pressure in their ears. Menieres disease can sometimes be treated successfully by placing the patient in a pressure chamber. Moreover, of particular interest, a recent paper (Franz et al., Acta Otolaryngol. 123, 2003, 133-137) reports that cutting the tendons of the middle ear muscles relieved symptoms in all 20 Menieres patients studied. In this context, it is possible to see a direct link between action of the stapedius muscle on the stapes and intracochlear pressure. Again suggesting a link between pressure and deafness, there are some interesting cases of "sudden idiopathic deafness", an uncommon condition which appears to be triggered by increases in blood pressure. Simmons (Arch. Otolaryng, 88, 1968, 67-74) reported cases where the precipitating factor was coughing, stooping to pick up a golf ball, getting out of bed, performing a Valsalva manoeuvre, and after diving. The patient suddenly lost 80 dB or so of hearing sensitivity, which sometimes persisted for weeks (and sometimes permanently). To assist recovery, Simmons recommends that such patients avoid "nose blowing, swimming, sudden postural changes, intercourse, and more than modest amounts of alcohol." Hallberg's report on sudden deafness (Laryngoscope 66, 1956, 1237-1267) is also of interest because in a surprisingly large number of cases the deafness came on suddenly in both ears and was attributed to "vascular accident". More recently, Preyer (1996) studied the relationship between sudden deafness and the weather (Laryngorhinootologie 75, 443-446) and found that patients with complete recovery were characterised by the smallest changes of atmospheric pressure and temperature. Andrew Bell. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Andrew Bell Research School of Biological Sciences Institute of Advanced Studies Australian National University Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia andrew.bell(at) phone +61 2 6125 9634 fax +61 2 6125 3808 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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