Meniere's Disease:

How Audiologists Can Help

The most difficult problems with Meniere’s disease are the unpredictable episodes of vertigo and the possibility of permanent hearing loss.

 

Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can lead to debilitating vertigo, hearing loss and tinnitus. In this article, we will discuss what Meniere’s disease is, its symptoms, when you should see your doctor about it and how audiologists can help with the condition.

People who have Meniere’s disease only have one ear affected. Meniere’s disease can occur at any age but it can manifest in between young and middle-aged adulthood.

A Chronic Condition

Meniere’s disease is considered a chronic condition. There are various treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms and minimize the long-term impact on one’s life.

Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease

Recurring episodes of vertigo – Patients with Meniere’s disease may experience a spinning sensation that starts and stops spontaneously. Vertigo episodes may occur without warning and may last from a few minutes to several hours.

Hearing loss – Loss of hearing in Meniere’s disease may come and go. Eventually, if symptoms are not treated in the early stages, it may result in permanent hearing loss.

Tinnitus (ringing in the ear) – this is the perception of a buzzing, ringing, roaring, whistling or hissing sound in the ear.

Aural fullness – Patients with Meniere’s disease may feel pressure or a feeling of fullness in the affected ear.

Meniere’s Disease Complications

 

The most difficult problems with Meniere’s disease are the unpredictable episodes of vertigo and the possibility of permanent hearing loss.

 

Patients with vertigo need to be careful at all times because they might lose their balance and be a victim of falls and accidents when an attack strikes suddenly.

 

Meniere’s disease can be an interruption of one’s normal life, causing anxiety, stress and fatigue.

Cause of Meniere’s Disease

The cause of Meniere’s disease is still unknown, however, symptoms of Meniere’s disease are somewhat linked to an abnormal amount of endolymph or fluid in the inner ear.

Factors that may affect the fluid in the inner ear include:

  • genetic predisposition
  • improper fluid drainage caused by a blockage or anatomic abnormality
  • viral infection
  • abnormal immune response

Since there’s no single cause identified, doctors are leaning on the concept that Meniere’s disease is a result of a combination of different factors.

When to see a doctor

Seek medical attention when you experience one or more symptoms of Meniere’s disease. It’s important to have these symptoms sorted out because they may also be caused by other illnesses.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Meniere’s Disease

A doctor will initially get a medical history and background of a patient exhibiting symptoms of Meniere’s disease.

A series of diagnostic tests will also be performed to check the balance and hearing capabilities.

Audiometric exam. Through this exam, hearing loss in the affected ear can be detected. An exam focused on speech discrimination may also be performed.

Electronystagmogram. This test will be performed in a darkened room. The eye movements of a patient will be measured as warm and cool air blows through the ear canal. This test evaluates the balance of a patient.

Auditory brainstem response test (ABR). Headphones will be worn during this test and a computer will measure how the brain waves respond to different sounds. This test is typically used for people who can’t go through other kinds of hearing tests or imaging tests.

Additional tests might also be needed like a CT scan or MRI to rule out the possibility that something else might be causing Meniere’s disease symptoms.

Meniere’s Disease: Treatment and Management

Once a person is diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, doctors will offer treatment options such as medication and surgery.

Medications can ease vertigo and fluid buildup. Meanwhile,  surgeries are performed to correct a problem in one’s ear that is causing Meniere’s disease.

A vestibular therapist can educate patients the proper ways on how to adjust body position so as not trigger any attacks in future episodes.

A hearing aid may also be prescribed for people who have severe attacks which makes them unable to hear.

Many modern hearing aids now have a special program that can help reduce the intensity of tinnitus and vertigo or other Meniere’s symptoms.

Hearing Aids Massachusetts:  Atlantic Hearing Care is a hearing clinic based in Massachusetts.  Our services included hearing evaluation, hearing aid fitting, cochlear implant services and many more. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

 

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Swampscott, MA 01907

 

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