Background: Hearing loss causes a significant reduction in the quality of life of patients with Ménière's disease. Although speech recognition is also affected, it has not been extensively studied. The objective of the study was to describe speech recognition behavior during a prolonged period in patients with unilateral Ménière's disease.
Methods: A prospective case-control study was performed. The case group included patients with defined unilateral Ménière's disease and the control group included patients with progressive non-fluctuating hearing loss. Patients underwent an auditory evaluation periodically. Pure-tone audiometry and speech recognition tests-speech recognition threshold and speech discrimination score-were administered. The dissociation between pure-tone audiometry and speech recognition was assessed through a linear regression analysis. During follow-up, Ménière's disease patients were subdivided into a stable and fluctuating subgroup (a change of >20% in the speech discrimination score with a change no greater than 15 dB in pure-tone audiometry).
Results: The average follow-up time was 79.9 months. Fifty-seven patients were included (30 cases, 27 controls). Dissociation between puretone audiometry and speech recognition threshold began to appear in the case group after 21 months, and it was statistically significant at 108 months. Duration of the disease was the only variable studied that influenced the dissociation. The fluctuation subgroup in cluded 56.6% of the cases.
Conclusion: We described 2 audiological peculiarities in Ménière's disease patients: dissociation between pure-tone audiometry and speech recognition during the evolution of the disease and the fluctuation of speech recognition regardless of the change in pure-tone audiometry. Our results highlight the importance of performing speech recognition tests during follow-up in patients with Ménière's disease.