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Auto-immune Inner Ear Disease

Auto-immune inner ear disease is a condition in which hearing loss and imbalance—manifested either as disequilibrium or vertigo—occurs as a result of a patient’s own immune system producing antibodies against his/her inner ear.

Etiology for Auto-immune Inner Ear Disease

As with any auto-immune disease, the cause is often poorly understood.  One possible theory is that the antigens found in the inner ear are localized and “protected” enough that the rest of the body may never be exposed to them.  A similar phenomenon is found in the eye.   If these antigens are released after, for example, an infection or surgery, the body may see these antigens as foreign and mount an attack against them.  This “attack” causes an inflammatory reaction and can cause the associated symptoms of hearing loss and balance dysfunction.