Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease

In Denver and Lone Tree, Colorado

What is Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease?

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 AIED is sudden hearing loss in one ear progressing rapidly to the second earThe hearing loss can progress over weeks or monthsPatients may feel fullness in the ear and experience vertigoIn additiona ringinghissingor roaring sound in the ear may be experiencedDiagnosis of AIED is difficult and is often mistaken for otitis media until the patient develops a loss in the second ear.

Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease Treatment

Most patients with AIED respond to the initial treatment of steroidsprednisoneand methotrexatea chemotherapy agentSome patients may benefit from the use of hearing aidsIf patients are unresponsive to drug therapy and hearing loss persistsa cochlear implant maybe considered.

History Of Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease

Until recentlyit was thought that the inner ear could not be attacked by the immune systemStudies have shown that the perisacular tissue surrounding the endolymphatic sac contains the necessary components for an immunological reactionThe 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.