Acute Hearing Loss

Emergency and immediate referrals

Referral to Emergency Department

If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergency medical advice if in a remote region:

  • Acute hearing loss less than 72 hours with no obvious cause (suspected sudden sensorineural hearing loss or SSNHL)

Immediately contact on-call registrar or service to arrange an immediate ENT assessment (seen within 7 days) for:

  • Sudden hearing loss less than 72 hours with the following associated conditions:
    • trauma
    • foreign body
    • dizziness or vertigo
    • facial numbness or weakness
    • ear pain
    • ear discharge 

To contact the relevant service, please see HealthPathways: Acute ENT Assessment

Presenting issues
  • Hearing loss less than 72 hours
Mandatory referral information (referral will be returned if this information is not included)


  • Relevant history, onset, duration and severity of hearing loss including:
    • Description of hearing loss i.e. one or both sides, severity, significant change in hearing
  • Current medication list
  • Details of previous treatment and outcome


  • Summary of neurological examination
  • Tuning fork test (Rinne test and/or Weber test) (where available and providing it will not cause significant delay)

If unable to attach reports please include relevant information/findings in the body of the referral

Referrer to state reason if not able to include mandatory information in referral (e.g. patient unable to access test due to geographical location or financial cost)

Highly desirable referral information
  • Information regarding any hearing aids or hearing devices and communication mode utilised by the patient e.g. Auslan
  • Other previous audiology assessment results
Indicative triage category
Indicative triage category
Category 1
Appointment within 30 days
  • Sudden SNHL is a medical emergency that needs urgent assessment and treatment (consider prednisolone)
  • An audiogram will be performed in the hospital
Category 2
Appointment within 90 days
  • No category 2 criteria
Category 3
Appointment within 365 days
  • No category 3 criteria
Excluded ENT services

Referral to public adult ENT outpatient services is not routinely accepted for the following conditions:

Condition Details
Hearing loss

Excluded condition for the following:

Hearing aid dispensing
Last reviewed: 24-05-2023

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