Vitiligo is one of the depigmenting disorder which is caused by the destruction of melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that give colour to our body and hair. Auto-antibodies of melanocytes cause its destruction and thereby causing the depigmenting disorder. The melanocytes are located in the hair, epidermis, retinal pigmented epithelium and inner ear. These cells are located throughout the Stria vascularis and modiolus of the cochlea as well as the vestibular organs.
How Vitiligo is connected to Hearing Loss?
Melanocytes have an important role in the inner ear as hearing may be affected in systemic disorders that affect the pigmented areas such as in cases of Vogt-Koyanagi syndrome and Waardenberg syndrome. In Stria vascularis, these cells modulate the function of sodium and potassium levels, thus creating an electric potential. This process is connected to the functioning of brain areas carrying information involving the auditory and balancing functions. Thus, in most of the cases, vitiligo patients have the chances of sensory neural hearing loss. So, these patients are recommended for routine checkup for hearing function for early identification of sensory neural hearing loss.
Geriatric patients with vitiligo are at a higher risk for hearing abnormalities. Therefore these patients are always informed about the associated risk with noise and ototoxicity.