Cogan Syndrome refers to a rare disorder characterized by inflammation in the eyes and ears. Other distinguishing indications of this illness comprise hearing loss, dizziness, excessive fatigue, fever and a sudden reduction in body weight. Also termed as Cogan’s Syndrome, this sickness is named after the renowned American ophthalmologist Dr. David Glendenning Cogan, who first elucidated the pathology and typical signs seen in the eyes, ears of affected patients, in the year 1945.
Causes Of Cogan Syndrome
This ailment is widely considered to be triggered due to an autoimmune response. This involves a situation in which the body’s immune cells synthesize antibodies that recognize internal tissues in the eyes, ears as foreign objects and hence harshly damage the healthy cells, but the exact cause is yet to be determined. However, unlike other autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes mellitus, lupus, where the chances of acquiring the condition from the parents are high, Cogan syndrome is usually not found to be genetically inherited.
The onset of Cogan syndrome is in the form of inflammation in the eyes. In particular, tenderness and protuberances occur in the cornea, which is the sheer outer layer of the eye, covering the pupils, iris and anterior chamber. This is termed as interstitial keratitis. Corneal inflammation is generally accompanied by red eyes with severe pain like in blepharitis, constant watery discharge from the visual organs and heightened sensitivity to bright light.
Since the condition of Cogan syndrome persists in the individual for a long period of time, discomforting indications are gradually experienced after about two years in the ears as well. These comprise tinnitus or ringing in the ears, problems with body balance and defective hearing functions. Moreover, people with Cogan syndrome also encounter vertigo, constant fatigue, soreness in the arms, joint pain, muscle cramps, unbearable headaches, difficulty in breathing normally and swollen lymph nodes.
The foremost consequence of Cogan syndrome is the complete loss of vision and hearing. It is hence necessary to seek professional medical treatment as soon as signs of Cogan syndrome are noticed in an individual, to provide timely treatment and avert the failure of eyesight and hearing functions.
A particular assay to confirm Cogan syndrome does not exist. The physician carefully examines all the external symptoms displayed by the patient and records when each sign began to manifest in the body. A complete eye exam is also conducted to probe for any indicators of inflammation in the visual organs and the ears are also tested for gauging hearing abilities. Imaging analyses such as MRI, CT scans are performed, to obtain clear visual depictions of the interior regions of the eyes, ears, to assess if there are any abnormalities or inflamed portions.
The treatment approach for Cogan syndrome varies from patient to patient, based on the extent to which the symptoms have progressed and how much damage has occurred in the tissues of the eyes and ears. The healthcare provider initially prescribes antibiotics to heal infections that may be prompting an inflammatory response in the eyes and ears. Also, eye dilating drops are prescribed, along with potent non-steroidal or steroid-based medicines, to lower inflammation in the visual and auditory tissues.
If the medical practitioner observes that this course of treatment has no effect in mitigating the symptoms of Cogan syndrome, then immunosuppressant medications are prescribed, to thwart the body’s immune cells from injuring the internal tissues of the ears and eyes. In situations wherein symptoms have exacerbated with prominent problems in vision and hearing, the doctor performs surgery of a corneal transplant to rectify eyesight, cochlear implant to correct hearing trouble and procedures to mend impaired blood vessels. This aids in alleviating painful symptoms in the eyes, ears in people with Cogan syndrome and improves visual and hearing functions.