Background: Ear involvement is not unusual in autoimmune diseases, but few data on this problem in the Sjögren syndrome are available.
Objectives: To determine whether the incidence of hearing loss is increased in patients with the Sjögren syndrome and to determine what factors might be involved in the pathogenesis of Sjögren syndrome-related hearing loss.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Secondary referral center in Italy.
Patients: 30 women with the Sjögren syndrome were evaluated for evidence of audiovestibular disorder. Their results were compared with those of 40 age-matched healthy women.
Measurements: Evaluation techniques included pure tone audiometry thresholds at octave frequencies of 125 Hz to 8000 Hz, tympanometry, and the stapedial reflex test in both ears. The presence of vasculitis, the Raynaud phenomenon, nervous system involvement, and serum anticardiolipin antibodies was recorded.
Results: 14 patients with the Sjögren syndrome (46% [95% CI, 28% to 66%]) had sensorineural hearing loss. Only one control (2.5% [CI, 0.06% to 13%]) had a similar hearing impairment (P < 0.001). Nine of the 14 patients who had the Sjögren syndrome and sensorineural hearing loss (64% [CI, 36% to 87%]) had anticardiolipin antibodies compared with only 3 controls (18% [CI, 4% to 45%]) (P = 0.02).
Conclusion: The high prevalence of hearing loss in the Sjögren syndrome supports the value of doing audiometric studies before excluding cranial nerve involvement in this disease. The correlation of sensorineural hearing loss with anticardiolipin antibodies must be investigated further.