Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease
Autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED) is a rare condition characterized by the immune system attacking the inner ear. It is believed to be a disorder where the body's immune response mistakenly targets the structures of the inner ear, leading to inflammation and damage.
AIED is a relatively rare condition and is often diagnosed after ruling out other potential causes of hearing loss and balance problems.
Commonly reported symptoms of those with autoimmune inner ear disease include:
Progressive sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in one or both ears that occurs over weeks to months and is not always the same in both ears. Learn more about hearing loss here.
Dizziness or imbalance (approximately 50 percent of AIED cases)
Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus. Learn more about tinnitus here.
Ear fullness (approximately 25 to 50 percent of AIED cases)
Conductive hearing loss may be present due to Eustachian tube obstruction from inflamed middle ear lining and/or if AIED is because of systemic autoimmune diseases
Symptoms of systemic autoimmune diseases, such as fatigue, achy muscles, swelling and redness, low-grade fever, and more
If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor or audiologist for a hearing evaluation. They can determine if you have AIED or another condition that is causing your symptoms.
If you are diagnosed with AIED, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
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The exact cause of AIED is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. AIED is more common in women than in men, and it typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50.
There is no cure for AIED, but there are treatments that can help to manage the symptoms. Treatment options include:
Steroids: Steroids can help to reduce inflammation and swelling in the inner ear.
Immunosuppressants: Immunosuppressants can help to suppress the immune system and prevent it from attacking the inner ear.
Hearing aids: Hearing aids can help to amplify sound for people with hearing loss.
Cochlear implants: Cochlear implants are devices that can be implanted in the inner ear to help people with severe hearing loss.
In some cases, AIED can cause permanent hearing loss. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help to preserve hearing and improve the quality of life for people with AIED.