Aim:To study the effects of hypobaric pressure chamber exposure on the cochlear frequency selectivity of subjects with monaural, fluctuating, low-frequency hearing loss, such as occurs in Ménière's disease.Methods:We used a hypobaric pressure chamber to create relative underpressure in the ear canal, in order to impose positive pressure gradients on the inner ear. Psychophysical tuning curves, transiently evoked otoacoustic emissions and speech recognition scores in noise were measured in 10 subjects with fluctuating, low-frequency hearing loss, before and after pressure exposure.Results:After the exposure, subjects' overall pure tone averages showed no improvement, but individual results showed improved speech recognition scores in noise (six subjects), increased transiently evoked otoacoustic emission strength (three subjects) and increased psychophysical tuning curve steepness (two subjects). Deteriorations were also seen, mainly in psychophysical tuning curves. No association could be established between the different tests, and the measured parameters could not predict subjective improvement.Conclusion:The results suggest variable effects of hypobaric pressure exposure on inner-ear physiology.
Subject classification (UKÄ)