On March 11, 2011, Japan's northeast Pacific coast was hit by a gigantic earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture is situated approximately 44 km north of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Soma General Hospital is the only hospital in Soma City that provides full-time otolaryngological medical care. We investigated the changes in new patients from one year before to three years after the disaster. We investigated 18,167 new patients treated at our department during the four years from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2014. Of the new patients, we categorized the diagnoses into Meniere's disease, acute low-tone sensorineural hearing loss, vertigo, sudden deafness, tinnitus, and facial palsy as neuro-otologic symptoms. We also investigated the changes in the numbers of patients whom we examined at that time concerning other otolaryngological disorders, including epistaxis, infectious diseases of the laryngopharynx, and allergic rhinitis. The total number of new patients did not change remarkably on a year-to-year basis. Conversely, cases of vertigo, Meniere's disease, and acute low-tone sensorineural hearing loss increased in number immediately after the disaster, reaching a plateau in the second year and slightly decreasing in the third year. Specifically, 4.8% of patients suffering from these neuro-otologic diseases had complications from depression and other mental diseases. With regard to new patients in our department, there was no apparent increase in the number of patients suffering from diseases other than neuro-otologic diseases, including epistaxis, and allergic rhinitis. Patients suffering from vertigo and/or dizziness increased during the first few years after the disaster. These results are attributed to the continuing stress and tension of the inhabitants. This investigation of those living in the disaster area highlights the need for long-term support.
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