Search Autoimmune Association

What is Susac’s syndrome

Susac’s syndrome is a very rare autoimmune related disease, of still unknown etiology, and many persons who experience it do not display the bizarre symptoms named here. Often sufferers experience a personality change and develop bizarre and paranoid behavior. Their speech can be affected, such as the case of a female of late teens who suffered speech issues and hearing problems, and many experience unrelenting and intense headaches and migraines, some form of hearing loss, and impaired vision. The problem usually corrects itself, but this can take up to five years. In some cases, subjects can become confused. The syndrome usually affects women around the age of 18 years old, with female to male ratio of cases of 2:1.

Susac syndrome is an autoimmune condition that affects the very small blood vessels in the brain, retina, and inner ear (cochlea). The condition is characterized by three main symptoms: brain disease (encephalopathy), hearing loss, and vision loss. Some people may not have all signs of Susac syndrome, but instead develop only specific combinations of the symptoms. Susac syndrome affects women more than men. The age at which symptoms begin is usually between 20 and 40 years, but some people have symptoms earlier or later than this age range.[1]

The cause of Susac syndrome is still unknown. Diagnosis is based on a clinical exam and imaging tests to look for the specific signs of Susac syndrome.[2] Treatment options include corticosteroids and cyclophosphamide as well as anticoagulation medications. Most people recover from Susac syndrome with treatment.[1]

This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).

Looking for more information?

Many of our partner organizations specialize in support for specific autoimmune diseases and have additional resources, research and care-management information available.