THROUGHOUT the long history of Hansen's disease (leprosy) the effect of the bacillus on the inner and middle ear has not been known. Since the disease affects peripheral sensory nerves, it would seem logical that the acoustic nerve, also a sensory nerve, could be involved. The upper respiratory tract also is directly involved, and secondary ear disease is a possibility. Any involvement of the inner or middle ear would cause a change in hearing.
Audiograms on patients with Hansen's disease, reported by DeCandia and Marino,1 were interpreted as specific evidence of cochlear and acoustic nerve damage. Further evidence was cited by Sacheri,2 in stating that 28% of his survey had a hearing loss. Twenty-five of his patients had chronic otitis media, but the bacillus could not be found in the ear. Usmanov3 later claimed this hearing loss may be the result of a specific bacillus intoxication in
Schuring AG, Istre CO. Hansen's Disease and Hearing. Arch Otolaryngol. 1969;89(3):478–481. doi:10.1001/archotol.1969.00770020480007
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