Early Diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease is Key to Quality of Life
A swift diagnosis of Meniere’s disease is critical to successfully managing the symptoms of hearing loss, vertigo and tinnitus.
Meniere’s disease strikes people at any age, causing hearing loss, tinnitus and dizziness. Although there is not yet a cure for the disease, experts say there are effective ways to manage the symptoms and have a good quality of life.
About 50,000 Australians suffer from Meniere’s disease
Meniere’s disease is an inner-ear disorder that causes people to experience:
- Vertigo – recurring episodes
- Hearing loss – often fluctuating
- Tinnitus – ringing in the ears
- A sensation of fullness in the ear – feeling of pressure
One in 1000 people are thought to have the condition, however many have the wrong diagnosis.
Also, the misconception that sufferers can do little to manage the problem means some don’t seek help until they experience a significant deterioration in the quality of life.
Vertigo, with a spinning sensation, is the first symptom to cause distress
Vertigo can strike without warning and can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea.
However, the most debilitating aspects of Meniere’s disease are fluctuating and progressive hearing loss and tinnitus, which severely affects communication.
Dr Celene McNeill says there are effective ways to manage the symptoms of Meniere’s.
“The earlier you have your diagnosis, the better. It’s going to affect your quality of life.’
Electrocochleography testing for Meniere’s
Electrocochleography (abbreviated ECochG or ECOG) is a technique of recording electrical potentials generated in the inner ear and auditory nerve in response to sound stimulation, using an electrode placed in the ear canal or tympanic membrane. The electrocochleography test is an objective measure of the electrical potentials generated in the inner ear as a result of sound stimulation. This test is used to determine if the inner ear (cochlea) has an excessive amount of fluid pressure.
Dr McNeill says Healthy Hearing & Balance Care is the only Australian clinic to fully specialise in Meniere’s disease. Trans-tympanic Electrocochleography testing is available at the Bondi Junction Clinic.
“The aim is to provide early diagnosis and management plans to ensure a quality of life for people with the disease.”
During the test, electrodes are used to measure the response of the ear, giving a reading to diagnose Meniere’s disease based on the changing amount of fluid in the ear.
Changing fluid levels can cause membranes in the ear to distort, resulting in the chronic problem of hearing loss.
A Meniere’s disease management plan is important
Once a Meniere’s disease diagnosis is confirmed, a management plan provides a patient with strategies to reduce the impact and strength of the dizziness, as well as strategies to improve hearing and reduce tinnitus. Lowering a patient’s salt intake can help reduce the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
People who intervene early to address hearing loss have the best chance of experiencing a significant improvement in their quality of life, Dr McNeill says. Some who suffer from severe and unpredictable dizzy spells can become anxious (even house-bound) because they fear to have an attack in public.
“So it’s more [about] managing symptoms until we find a cure,” Dr McNeill says.
Meniere’s Disease Misdiagnosis
Meniere’s disease is often misdiagnosed as food poisoning or a virus. She says a confirmed diagnosis is critical to determining the treatment. Dr McNeill practises at Bondi Junction with emeritus professor of otology Dr William Gibson and neuro-physiotherapist Kathee DeLapp. She is also a co-director of the Meniere’s Research Fund, which raises money for Sydney University researchers seeking to find a cure.
Hearing Aids for Meniere’s Syndrome: Implications of Hearing Fluctuation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19253813
Electrocochleography in the diagnosis of Meniere’s disease: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10958398
Meniere’s and Tinnitus Clinic
Our aim is to improve quality of life of people living with hearing and balance disorders
Healthy Hearing & Balance Care range of services include:
- Meniere’s disease tests and management
- Tinnitus assessment and management
- Hearing and balance function tests and therapy
- Auditory processing tests and training
- Hearing aids and Cochlear Implants fitting and maintenance
- Hearing protection custom made plugs and in-ear monitors
Our professional experts are:
- Dr Celene McNeill, audiologist
- Prof. Bill Gibson, otologist
- Ms Kathee DeLapp, neuro physiotherapist
- Ms Danielle Dennis, audiologist