Meniere’s Disease is typically characterized by bouts of vertigo, tinnitus, and a feeling of fullness in the ear. It can also cause progressive hearing loss. Let’s take a look at Meniere’s Disease’s effect on hearing, and how your audiologist can help diagnose and mitigate symptoms.
What’s Meniere’s Disease?
Have you been diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease? You would likely know it if you had. Meniere’s Disease is a disorder of the inner ear and is characterized by a spinning feeling, sometimes quite violent, fluctuating hearing loss, tinnitus, and sometimes a feeling of pressure in your ear. Onset of Meniere’s Disease generally occurs between the ages of 20 and 50, although it can happen at different ages as well. Symptoms include:
- Episodes of severe vertigo – Coming on without warning, vertigo is a spinning sensation that can last 20 minutes to several hours. In severe cases it can cause nausea and vomiting.
- Hearing Loss -The loss can happen intermittently, but eventually most people have some permanent hearing loss.
- Tinnitus – Characterized by the perception of ringing, whistling, buzzing or roaring sounds.
- Fullness – Patients with Meniere’s Disease frequently report feeling pressure in the affected ears.
One of the frustrating aspects of Meniere’s Disease is the fact that the episodes come and go, without warning, and can occur weeks or even years apart. It can seriously affect your quality of life.
Meniere’s Disease Effects on Hearing
As I mentioned above, tinnitus and a feeling of fullness are both associated with Meniere’s Disease. Unfortunately, hearing loss can accompany Meniere’s as well. Initially, the symptoms of vertigo are the most severe in the early stages of the condition, but as the disease progresses it frequently begins to affect your hearing more. Tinnitus and a “roaring” sound are characteristic of Meniere’s at this stage, and hearing generally continues to decline.
What can you do?
First, a diagnosis is necessary, and in order to be diagnosed, a patient must exhibit more than one bout of the above mentioned symptoms. Audiologists can evaluate and diagnose balance and balance-related diseases, and help manage the hearing loss associated with Meniere’s. Audiologists also provide support and services in conjunction with your specialist. A Neurotologist is a specialist trained to manage and treat Meniere’s Disease. Your specialist and audiologist are a team to help you with diagnosis, symptom management, and hearing-related effects of the disease.
The first line of treatment usually involve lifestyle changes, as it is theorized that the disease is the result of excess fluid in the inner ear. As such, initial recommendations include reducing salt intake, decreasing caffeine, avoiding MSG, and to quit smoking. Stress management is also an important component of managing the disease. If these steps fail to produce a reduction in symptoms, the treatments progress to help the patient get relief.
We Can Help
Hearing Resources Audiology Center is a full-service, friendly audiology clinic, and we’re ready to help you. Contact us today!