Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear. People with this disorder experience episodes of dizziness, hearing loss and tinnitus. Unlike other disorders, treatment for this condition is focused on managing symptoms rather than offering a cure.
What Is Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease causes fluid to build up in the inner ear. The extra fluid interferes with the signals sent to your brain. Since the inner ear is responsible for both balance and hearing, the symptoms include:
- Severe dizziness and vertigo
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- Hearing loss
- Feeling of fullness in the ear
Symptoms can last from 20 minutes to an entire day. According to Erin Bean, an audiologist and clinical assistant professor at New York University, “The hearing loss can vary, and typically it will happen in recurrent episodes, with, over time, the hearing getting worse and worse.” She went on to explain, “In the beginning, it can fluctuate and get much worse and return to normal, but typically, over time, the return to normal is much less, and people are left with longer periods of sensory-neural hearing loss.”
Understanding the Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
In an interview with Whitefish Review, Huey Lewis opened up about his struggles with depression after being diagnosed with the disorder. “In the first two months of this, I was suicidal,” he explained. “I thought, s—, I’m just going to commit suicide. I actually contemplated my demise.”
Because of the disease, Lewis had to put his music career on hold. “I can’t hear music. It’s hard enough to hear speech. But music is impossible … I can actually get better sometimes, where I think ‘Oh my gosh, I can almost sing.’ And I have sung twice in the last two years, when my hearing was better. And I sang one song acoustically. But I couldn’t do it for a set.”
Treating the Disease
Treatment for Meniere’s disease is often focused on managing the symptoms rather than addressing the cause of the disorder. There are a number of treatment options available.
Motion sickness medications such as meclizine or diazepam may be prescribed to reduce the sensation of spinning and control nausea and vomiting. Promethazine and other anti-nausea medications may also be recommended.
Vestibular rehabilitation therapy can help you improve your balance, especially between episodes of vertigo.
Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss, a symptom of this disease. Your audiologist will complete a series of hearing tests to determine your degree of hearing loss and will recommend a device that works best for your individual needs.
Positive Pressure Therapy
This therapy involves applying pressure to the middle ear to decrease the buildup of fluid. This at-home treatment has been shown to improve symptoms of vertigo and tinnitus.
Middle Ear Injections
An injection of steroids in the middle ear can help control episodes of vertigo. Gentamicin, an antibiotic that’s toxic to the ear may help improve your balance by reducing your balancing function in the damaged ear so your healthy ear takes over.
To learn more about how to manage Meniere’s disease or to schedule an appointment, contact the experts at Chelmsford Hearing Group today.