Autoimmune inner ear disease

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Autoimmune inner ear disease is a suspected autoimmune disease characterized by rapidly progressive bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.[1] It occurs when the body's immune system attacks cells in the inner ear that are mistaken for a virus or bacteria. Autoimmune inner ear disease was first described by Dr. Brian McCabe of the University of Iowa in 1979.

Autoimmune inner ear disease
Classification and external resources
ICD-9-CM 388.8


Symptoms of AIED are:

  • A sudden loss of hearing in one ear, followed by a gradual loss of hearing in the second ear.
  • A Feeling of fullness in one ear
  • Vertigo
  • Tinnitus

The symptoms can be easily mistaken for Otitis Media. [1]


AIED is generally caused by either antibodies or immune cells that cause damage to the inner ear. There are several autoimmune disorders to which AIED is related:

  • Bystander damage
  • Cross-reactions
  • Genetic factors
  • Drug Use (opiate-based painkillers like OxyContin)[2] [3] [4]

Research has found that long term abuse of opiate-based painkillers (such as OxyContin and Hydrocodone) can lead to profound hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear, according to Dr. Gail Ishiyama, an assistant professor at the UCLA department of neurology.[5]


AIED treatment is a rapidly changing field. Steroids are often used in the treatment of AIED, as well as cytotoxic agents such as Cyclophosphamide and Methotrexate.

More recently, in order to avoid many of the side effects of steroids, alternative medications and surgical procedures are used. Since these change quite frequently, it is a good idea to check many sources in locating the most cutting-edge procedure for treating autoimmune inner ear disease.[2]


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