HIV increases sudden hearing loss in the young

Taiwan

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Researchers have found that having HIV appears to increase the risk of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), particularly among young people. The Taiwan-based study reveals that people under 35 or younger with HIV had double the risk of sudden hearing loss compared with HIV-negative controls. But, in a retrospective population-based cohort, there was no significant difference between the groups for people 36 or older, according to the research which was conducted by Dr. Charlene Lin and her team at the University of Berkley in California. The researchers conducted the retrospective, cohort, population-based study involving 8,760 Taiwanese patients with HIV and 43,800 control subjects to quantify the risk of developing SSHL in patients. The authors found that, in the 18-35 year old group, patients with HIV infection had a 2.17 higher risk of SSHL than control patients. In men, the risk of developing SSHL was 2.23 fold higher in HIV-infected patients compared with control patients. “In conclusion, HIV infection is associated with a significantly increased risk of the development of SSHL in patient aged 18 to 35, particularly among men,” the study states. “Scheduled auditory examinations for patients with HIV to assess the presence of chronic hearing impairment are advised to enable the early detection of SSHL.” Up to 44% of HIV-positive people have a chronic hearing impairment, for a variety of reasons, Lin and colleagues noted. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss in HIV-positive people, on the other hand, has been reported occasionally but there are no case series or cohort studies of the condition in those with the virus. In Taiwan, Lin and colleagues noted, sudden sensorineural hearing loss is defined as loss of 30 decibels or more in at least three contiguous audiometric frequencies that develops over a period of a few hours to three days.

Source:JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. March 2013

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