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Autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED) is an inflammatory condition of the inner earIt occurs when the body’s immune system attacks cells in the inner ear that are mistaken for a virus or bacteriaAIED is a rare disease occurring in less than one percent of the 28 million Americans with a hearing loss.

Symptoms of Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease

The symptom of autoimmune inner ear disease is sudden hearing loss in one ear progressing rapidly to the second ear. The hearing loss can progress over weeks or months. Patients may feel fullness in the ear and experience vertigo. In addition, a ringing, hissing, or roaring sound in the ear may be experienced.

Diagnosing Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease

Diagnosis of autoimmune inner ear disease is difficult and is often mistaken for otitis media until the patient develops a loss in the second ear.

Treatment for Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease

Most patients with autoimmune inner ear disease respond to the initial treatment of steroids, prednisone, and methotrexate, a chemotherapy agent. Some patients may benefit from the use of hearing aids. If patients are unresponsive to drug therapy and hearing loss persists, a cochlear implant may be considered.

History Of Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease

Until recently, it was thought that the inner ear could not be attacked by the immune system. Studies have shown that the perisaccular tissue surrounding the endolymphatic sac contains the necessary components for an immunological reaction. The inner ear is also capable of producing an autoimmune response to sensitized cells that can enter the cochlea through the circulatory system.

Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease Research

A multi-institutional clinical studyOtolaryngology Clinical Trial Cooperative Group (OCTCG) co-sponsored by the NIH and the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundationis being conducted to measure the benefits and risks of treating AIED with two different immunosuppressive drugs: prednisone and methotrexatea chemotherapy drug.

Contact Us

If you are experiencing any symptoms of sudden hearing loss, contact Integrated ENT at (303) 706-1616 for a comprehensive evaluation. You may also request an appointment online.

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