You probably already know that advancing age and noise exposure can lead to hearing loss, but did you know that autoimmune diseases are also linked? We explore the connection between autoimmune disease and auditory problems below.
What Is an Autoimmune Disease?
Your immune system’s job is to protect you from disease and infection by attacking viruses and bacteria that enter your body. While a healthy immune system can determine which germs are foreign and attack them, the immune system of somebody with an autoimmune disorder attacks the healthy cells of your organs and tissues by mistake.
There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases.
How Do Autoimmune Diseases Cause Hearing Loss?
Different autoimmune diseases cause hearing loss in different ways, but usually involves inflammation of the inner ear or disrupted blood flow to the inner ear. The severity of the hearing loss, whether one or both ears is affected, how quickly hearing loss progresses and what frequencies are impacted can all vary.
Treatment of hearing loss caused by an autoimmune disease includes corticosteroids, plasma transfers, medications and hearing aids.
Autoimmune Diseases that Cause Hearing Loss
Below are some of the autoimmune diseases that can cause hearing loss.
Autoimmune Inner Ear Disorder (AIED)
AIED, though rare, is an autoimmune disorder most closely connected to hearing loss. This disease causes immune cells to attack the inner ear, leading to hearing loss that is progressive and fluctuates. Though the hearing loss can be sudden, it more often takes days to months to develop.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
As many as 72% of patients with RA also experience hearing loss. In fact, one study found that people with RA are four times more likely to have sensorineural hearing loss compared to someone without the disorder. In most cases, people with RA and hearing loss experience it in both ears. It tends to fluctuate and affect the higher pitches.
A recent estimate found that about 25% of patients with lupus have hearing-related symptoms. Patients with lupus tend to have hearing loss that begins with one ear, affecting high-frequency sounds, that then spreads to the other ear and affects lower-pitch sounds. It can also cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness and aural fullness.
If you’re experiencing muscle problems due to your autoimmune disorder, you’ll call Essential Escape Massage. For more information about hearing loss or to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, call Hill Country Audiology today.