Hearing Aids for Meniere's disease

Hearing Aids For Meniere’s Disease – Definite Help

Everyone who suffers from Meniere’s disease has some form of hearing loss in the affected ear, and it is a common misconception that hearing aids for Meniere’s disease won’t help.

The hearing loss that accompanies Meniere’s is difficult and complicated, but assistance is available with appropriate care. If you’ve been told that the hearing loss associated with Meniere’s is impossible to deal with, you’ve been misinformed.

Hearing Loss Associated with Meniere’s

Everyone with Meniere’s disease has some degree of hearing loss in the affected ear. A great majority has unilateral disease with normal hearing on the opposite ear. Some less fortunate have bilateral disease so that a hearing loss is present in both ears. In either case, there is always a difference in the levels of hearing between the right and left ears.

Hearing is a bilateral system and the brain relies on the information from both ears to properly interpret sounds. When there are differences in hearing acuity between the right and left ears, mismatched signals are sent to the brain causing confusion and distortion.

People with hearing loss in only one ear report a range of problems. The most common is the difficulty to follow conversation in a noisy environment. Those with hearing loss in one ear and normal hearing in the other, often say that they can hear in these situations but cannot understand what they hear. The background noise sounds very loud and unpleasant so that they end up avoiding social situations such as parties and restaurants.

Use Hearing Aids to Adapt to Soft or Loud Sounds

People with hearing loss due to Meniere’s disease usually perceive loud sounds as extremely loud and even painful. This phenomenon is known as recruitment. Soft sounds cannot be detected because of the hearing loss but louder sounds are perceived as abnormally loud due to recruitment. Hearing aids, when properly fitted to the hearing loss, provide amplification of soft sounds to an audible level and compress loud sounds to a comfortable level promoting clearer and more comfortable hearing.

The other common problem encountered by those with only one good hearing ear is the inability to tell where sounds are coming from. Sound localisation is processed in the brain by analysing the differences between the information coming from each ear. If the input comes from one ear only the result is that sounds are always perceived as coming from the side of better hearing. Aiding the impaired ear will improve sound localization.

The most embarrassing trouble caused by hearing loss in one ear is that people tend to unintentionally ignore when someone talks to them on the “deaf” side. They are then wrongly considered to be rude or vague.

Help with Hearing Aids for Meniere’s Disease

At present, managing the symptoms is the best option to improve the quality of life for people with Meniere’s disease. From an audiologist’s point of view, hearing rehabilitation is a very effective means to manage the symptom of hearing loss and tinnitus.

Dr McNeill and her colleagues have shown that hearing aids are very successful for people with Meniere’s disease providing the individual characteristics of the hearing loss are properly addressed.  Their research also showed that  hearing rehabilitation reduced tinnitus perception in 70%  of people and 20% did not hear their tinnitus at all while wearing their hearing aids

An Audiologist Can Help with Hearing Aids for Meniere’s Disease and Hearing Loss

It is essential that you consult a qualified audiologist who has experience treating Meniere’s disease.

First, the audiologist will conduct a series of hearing tests to evaluate both the existence and extent of the hearing loss. Your hearing may need to be evaluated multiple times. This way the audiologist can more accurately determine the extent of hearing fluctuation and select a suitable hearing aid.

Remember that hearing aids are medical devices, so a trained professional must diagnose, prescribe and fit them properly. The good news is that Hearing Aids for Meniere’s disease can provide definite support.

References:

  1. McNeill, C. (2005) A hearing aid system for fluctuating hearing loss due to Meniere’s disease: A case study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Audiology, 27, 78–84.
  2. McNeill, C. (2008) The effects of hearing aids on tinnitus perception. In Proceedings of IX International Tinnitus Seminars. Goteburg .Sweden
  3. McNeill, C., McMahon, C., Newall, P., Kalantzis, M. (2008) Hearing aids for Meniere’s Syndrome – implications of hearing fluctuation, J Am Acad Audiol, 19, 430-434
  4. McNeill C, Taylor A. Tinnitus perception and the effects of a self-programmable hearing aid on hearing fluctuation due to Meniere’s disease. January 2010. The New Zealand Medical Journal. Volume 123 (1311): pages 126-135. http://www.whirledfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/1009_Hearing-Loss-in-Menieres.pdf.
  5. Sharon JD, Trevino C, Schubert MC, Carey JP. Treatment of Menière’s Disease. April 2015. Curr Treat Options Neurol., Volume 17 (4):341. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25749846