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What is Meniere’s Disease?

Hearing loss can be attributed to many things including aging, exposure to loud noises and illness. One of the illnesses that cause hearing impairment is Meniere’s Disease. Is Meniere’s Disease affecting your hearing?




Hi, I'm Jim Cuddy and this is Ask The Hearing Doctors. And I'm joined today by Dr. Ashly Wilcox, Dr. Adriana Martineau, doctors of audiology with Hearing Doctors. The Washington DC area's highest-rated audiology practice with over 1500, five-star reviews. Adriana, Ashly, great to see you both. Thank you.


So our topic today is Meniere's disease. What is Meniere's disease? 


Yeah. Meniere's disease is an inner ear disease. And what it's caused by is an overproduction or a lack of absorption of endolymph. Endolymph is a fluid within your inner ear. Okay. Some symptoms that patients may have if they were diagnosed with Meniere's disease is a low frequency sensorineural hearing loss that typically will fluctuate. Dizziness and specific vertigo, which is the sensation of the room is spinning around you but you're sitting still. And then tinnitus, which is most people think about tinnitus or tinnitus as something that's more of a high-pitched ringing but typically with Meniere's disease you see something that's more of a low-pitched, roaring sound within their ears. Also, oral fullness, the feeling of being stuffed up as well.


Wow! Would you, do you always, are those always the the signs of it or?


No, not always. And um to be actually diagnosed with Meniere's disease you actually are we would refer out to an Ear, Nose and Throat physician to give you that exact diagnosis. It's Meniere's disease is more something that we would assess and then refer out. Okay. All right. 


How common is Meniere's disease?


So, um it's fairly common actually from the ages of 40 to 60 years old. And actually almost a million people in America have Meniere's disease. Oh wow!


Now are there particular causes to Meniere's disease?


So that's the thing. Meniere's disease is idiopathic which means we don't know the cause of Meniere's disease. There are a couple um stuff that we'll figure out in your case history to maybe direct us towards uh one possibility. So it could be head trauma, allergies, um genetics um but we don't know the cause.


So how do you test for Meniere's disease?


Yeah. So we would complete a comprehensive audiological evaluation. So we would take your case history circling back to those symptoms that we discussed earlier. Do you have tinnitus? Is it that roaring sound? Do you have hearing difficulties? So that kind of gives us a cue about what's gonna what is this audiogram what is this hearing test going to look like for us. And then of course we'd look into your ears. We'd perform immittance testing which allows us to evaluate your middle ear system. And then of course the the beeps, you would press the button. And then that gives us a better picture of what's going on in your auditory system. If the patient comes in and they express that they have some dizziness or some vertigo we would actually refer out for a full vestibular evaluation to look at the integrity of the vestibular system itself.


Another thing that's involved with Meniere's disease is a fluctuation of hearing loss. So we actually recommend that people who may be at risk or may have Meniere's disease that they come in and we test their hearing when they're maybe feel like they can't hear as well or they feel like they're hearing better, so we can document that those episodes of Meniere's disease are occurring in that time. And we can better adjust for that. Yeah.


Are there treatment options?


So we, no, so what we do is we refer you out to the Ear, Nose and Throat physician and they would determine what treatment options they would give you.


Is there a cure for Meniere's disease?


So there's not technically a cure for Meniere's disease. And after we refer out to the Ear, Nose and Throat physician, the ENT, they can provide the patient with some lifestyle modifications. And then give them their best recommendation based off from their symptoms and how it's impacting their life. Yeah, so they'll make it a little bit more manageable. Because it is manageable to live with Meniere's disease, you just need some guidance on how you might need to change your lifestyle so and they'll further help you with that.


Well this is another fascinating conversation. Thank you both for your time today, really appreciate it and we look forward to doing it again. Thank you. Thank you.


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