INTRODUCTION: This study aims to investigate the effect of acupuncture treatment on hearing and tinnitus in patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) refractory to treatment.
METHODS: Between January 2013 and May 2015, a total of 25 patients (8 males, 17 females; median age: 43.3 years; range, 18 to 65 years) resistant to medical treatment who underwent acupuncture as salvage therapy were retrospectively analyzed. The patients were evaluated with pure-tone audiometry, Speech Discrimination Score (SDS), and Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) at pre-treatment (T0), and after 10th (T1) and 20th sessions (T2) of acupuncture.
RESULTS: Hearing loss evaluated according to the four-frequency pure-tone average (PTA; 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 4,000 kHz) showed a statistically significant improvement at the end of the 10th session of acupuncture (p=0.017). There was also a significant improvement in the PTA values of the worst three consecutive frequencies at the end of the 20th session (p=0.034). A significant improvement in SDS (p=0.022) and THI (p<0.001) was found at the end of the 20th session.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Acupuncture treatment yields promising results in the improvement of PTA. The therapeutic effect of acupuncture is also evident in the treatment of tinnitus secondary to SNHL.