Autoimmune Hearing Loss Specialist

Schwartzman Rheumatology

Rheumatologists located in Upper East Side, New York, NY

Autoimmune disease can affect many organs and systems within your body, including your ability to hear properly. Sergio Schwartzman, MD, has extensive experience diagnosing and treating autoimmune hearing loss, and has helped many in the Yorkville area of Manhattan, New York City, slow the progression of hearing loss and improve their hearing. To explore your options, call the practice to set up a visit, or use the easy online booking tool.

Autoimmune Hearing Loss Q & A

What is autoimmune hearing loss?

When your body mistakenly launches a strong immune response in the inner ear, hearing loss can occur. Autoimmune hearing loss is rare, accounting for less than 1% of all hearing loss. 

Your immune system is a powerful protector of your body and works to fight off various types of infection. In some cases, however, this system wrongly perceives healthy cells as potentially dangerous foreign pathogens. 

When your immune system mistakes inner ear cells as a virus or bacteria, it may go to work to destroy those cells. That damage can interfere with your hearing. 

How do I know if I have autoimmune inner ear disease?

Hearing loss brought on by autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED) usually progresses rapidly. You might notice a sudden decrease in your hearing ability in one ear, and the problem often spreads to the other ear over a period of weeks or months. 

Additional symptoms might include:

  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Tinnitus
  • Sensation of fullness within your ear

Autoimmune inner ear disease can be difficult to diagnose, and there’s no single, stand-alone test that shows the condition.

Diagnostic tools might include blood testing to look for signs of an autoimmune disorder, hearing tests, or a rotary chair test to evaluate the source of dizziness or balance problems. A response to Immunosuppressive medication or corticosteroid therapy could confirm AIED.

A discussion of your symptoms and review of your personal and family health history are also important parts of the diagnostic process. 

What can be done to treat autoimmune inner ear disease?

Oral steroid medications like dexamethasone, prednisone, or aldosterone can help treat AIED. This approach helps approximately 60% of patients with autoimmune hearing loss.

However, they also carry a risk of side effects, some of which are serious. Steroid medications also require a slow process of tapering down, as ending this type of drug therapy abruptly can be harmful. 

Another option involves delivering steroid medications directly into the inner ear, either through a needle or via a process called transtympanic administration. This involves making a small incision in the eardrum and placing a thin tube to guide the medication into the middle ear.

It may take time to find the treatment path that’s right for you. To explore these and other options in more depth, call the office today to set up a visit. Online booking is also an option.