Transient auditory dysfunction (TAD) is a previously undescribed symptom complex of unknown cause. It is characterized by short-lasting sensorineural hearing loss (unilateral or bilateral), it is associated with tinnitus, it resolves completely within minutes, and it is not accompanied by vestibular symptoms. We conducted a cross-sectional prospective study to define TAD, find its prevalence, and discuss its significance. Two hundred healthy subjects between the ages of 16 and 49 years were surveyed using a questionnaire. Of these subjects, 41 (20.5%) reported experiencing symptoms of TAD. The mean number of episodes was 5.9 times per month, the mean duration was 41 seconds, and 80% experienced concomitant tinnitus. We conclude that TAD is a common finding in a healthy population. This may have implications for the pathogenesis of sudden-onset sensorineural hearing loss. Further longitudinal studies and detailed audiologic evaluation of patients with TAD are required to ascertain the significance, etiology, and pathophysiology of this condition.
Sudden-onset hearing loss is a well-recognized condition defined as a 30-dB hearing loss developing within 3 days. In most patients the etiology is unknown.1 The incidence is low, between 5 and 20 per 100,000 per year, although this is likely to be an underestimate.2 Most patients recover their hearing completely. Although recurrent episodes of hearing loss can occur, this is unusual (14 out of 1,798 patients in one study3).