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Allergic rhinitis is associated with excess specific immunoglobulin E. Inner ear involvement (via both cellular and humoral immunity) is poorly understood, but appears to arise from the endolymphatic sac and duct.
To assess the otological and audiological status of patients with allergic rhinitis.
Thirty allergic rhinitis patients (14 men, 16 women; age 17–45 years, mean 31 years) and 20 controls (12 men, eight women; age 21–42 years, mean 27 years) underwent audiological investigation.
All study group patients had sensorineural (rather than conductive) hearing loss, worse at high frequencies. All had abnormal transient evoked otoacoustic emissions and 27 had abnormal distortion product otoacoustic emissions. All had a statistically significantly prolonged wave I latency, and shortened absolute wave I–III and I–V interpeak latencies, compared with controls.
Allergic rhinitis patients had a higher prevalence of hearing loss and otoacoustic emission abnormalities than controls. The endolymphatic sac can process antigens and produce its own local antibody response; the resulting inflammatory mediators and toxic products may interfere with hair cell function. Additional research is needed to determine the clinical value of audiometry and otoacoustic emission testing in allergic rhinitis.
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