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Progressive sensorineural hearing loss from infectious agents.

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Abstract

The progressive sensorineural hearing loss due to infectious causes can involve different etiological agents like bacteria, viruses, protozoons or mycetes. These infectious agents can act in various ways: directly through a labyrinthitis that may destroy the neuroepithelium; through an ischaemic process secondary to a septic embolus; or through a thrombus. In some cases the damage can occur in a meningitis context, because of the passage of the germ in the inner through the nerves, the vases or the labyrinthine liquids. Bacterial meningitis is one of the causes of progressive sensorinueral hearing loss. Among bacteria, the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis has nowadays acquired a remarkable importance which is also due to its considerable diffusion, despite modern therapy, and to its association with HIV infection. Bacteria can also cause a labyrinthitis acting directly on the inner ear: among these, Treponemas Pallidum, a spirochaete which causes syphilis and Borrelia Burgdorferi, a spirochaete that causes
Lyme Disease, must be mentioned. The viruses that are certainly involved in the etiology of progressive sensorineural hearing loss are Cytomegalovirus and Rubella virus. The virus usually causes a labyrinthitis after the viraemia, wich may be due to the passage of the virus from the blood to the endolymph, through the stria vascularis with the consequent infection of the sensorial cells of the organ of Corti. Less frequently the viral damage to the inner ear can occur after a vasculitis, a meningitis or an alteration of the cell-mediated immunity. Progressive sensorineural hearing loss can also occur because of some congenital viral infections such as those caused by Cytomegalovirus and Rubella virus. More recently even the Human Parvovirus B19 seems to have been involved. This virus seems to act through autoimmune and/or immunologic processes, like that causing sudden hearing loss in Lassa fever. Another viral infection which can nowadays more frequently be considered among the cause of progressive hearing loss is HIV. In the HIV infection the neurological toxic lesions due to the administered ototoxic drugs are added up to the damages caused by the opportunistic infectious agents (virus, bacterium, protozoon mycete). However, in these patients HIV itself could be the cause of the auditory and vestibular lesions. More rarely, a progressive hearing loss may be due to the action of a protozoon or mycete only.

Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 1998 Aug;18(4 Suppl 59):51-4. Case Reports; English Abstract; Review

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