Purpose of review: To highlight the recent advances in the understanding of the diagnosis and management of viral inner ear disorders. Congenital sensorineural hearing loss (cSNHL), sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL), Ménière's disease, and vestibular neuritis/viral labyrinthitis are discussed.
Recent findings: Cytomegalovirus infection during pregnancy is an under-recognized cause of hearing loss and central nervous system disease amongst the general population. Prevention of maternal infection and treatment of affected newborns with ganciclovir are promising interventions. Recent evidence in SSNHL patients has resulted in recommendations against viral serology or the use of antivirals. There appears to be an increased risk of SSNHL in patients with comorbid hypertension and diabetes. The viral hypothesis of Ménière's disease remains unproven. In patients with an acute episode of vestibular neuritis, there is presently not sufficient evidence to support the routine use of corticosteroids or antiviral medications.
Summary: cSNHL remains the most clearly defined of the viral inner ear disorders. The evidence for viral involvement in SSNHL, Ménière's disease, and vestibular neuritis is indirect and equivocal. This review highlights the recent advancements in the diagnosis and management of these disorders.
aDepartment of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
bDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering
cDepartment of Clinical Neurological Sciences, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
Correspondence to Lorne S. Parnes, MD, FRCSC, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London Health Sciences Centre – University Hospital, 339 Windermere Road, PO Box 5339, London, ON N6A 5A5, Canada. Tel: +1 519 663 3604; fax: +1 519 663 3916; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org