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Autoimmune Inner Ear Disorders: A Case Study

By Dennis A. Colucci, AuD


Autoimmune inner ear diseases (AIEDs) occur in less than one percent of patients with hearing loss or balance disorders (AFRF, 2012). This inflammatory condition is caused by the body’s immune system acting against its own healthy cells and tissues. Taking several days up to three months to develop, AIED is known to come with tinnitus, and half of the patients have also reported experiencing vertigo (Hearing Journal. 2017;70[8]:6). AIED affects more men than women. It is not always a standalone disease,but can be a response from a larger disease process such as systemic lupus, Cogan’s syndrome, polyarteritis nodosa (artery inflammation), or Reiter’s syndrome (reactive arthritis), which is one of a number of multi-focal diseases (Clin Case Rep. 2014;2[6]:310). Even Ménière’s disease is implicated as an autoimmune-mediated condition because of its relationship with specific genotypes. In some AIED cases, the triggering mechanism can be unknown.

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