Autoimmune Hearing Loss

Autoimmune inner ear disease or “AIED” is described as a progressive hearing loss and/or dizziness caused by antibodies or immune cells which are attacking the inner ear.

The reduction of hearing accompanied by tinnitus (ringing, hissing, roaring) and can occur over a few months. About 50% of patients with AIED have balance problems.

There are many ways that AIED can damage the inner ear. Both allergy and traditional “autoimmune disease” such as Ankylosing spondylitis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (SLE), Sjoegren’s syndrome (dry eye syndrome), Cogan’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Wegener’s granulomatosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma can cause or be associated with AIED. Another multisystem disease, Bechet’s, commonly has audiovestibular problems.

AIED is rare, probably accounting for less than 1% of all cases of hearing impairment or dizziness. The precise incidence is controversial. About 16% of persons with bilateral Meniere’s disease, and 6% of persons with Meniere’s disease of any variety may be due to immune dysfunction.