AIED is a problem that has been known since 1979 and discovered by Brian McCabe, M.D. AIED is in a class of diseases known as “rheumatic” or “autoimmune diseases”. Any organ can be mistakenly attacked by the person’s own immune system and give rise to inflammation and breakdown of tissue and create loss of function. When the inner ear is attacked by the person’s own immune system, this results in inflammation and destruction of the inner ear. The inner ear components of hearing and balance can be disturbed by this process. The patient may notice symptoms of hearing loss, ringing tinnitus of the ears, and balance or vertigo problems.
Diagnosis of autoimmune disease relies on the patient’s own history, as well as, hearing testing, possible balance testing, and blood testing.
Autoimmune inner-ear disease has several different treatment options. No one treatment has been known to be completely effective as each person has a different magnitude of autoimmune response to their ear. Generally, the treatment is of an immune-suppressant type either by local or oral administration of steroids or by oral milder doses of immune-suppressant systemic drugs. Usually, treatment takes place over a period of time of months. Some patients may need maintenance for years.
In the event that the treatment is not effective to taper the patient’s immune response against their own ears, then senson-neural hearing loss may happen. Sometimes it leads to complete deafness, treatment then ranges from hearing aids to cochlear implantation to give the patient return of hearing.