Meniere's Disease and Hearing Aids
Individuals afflicted with Meniere’s disease initially have to deal with up to three major attacks of vertigo a year with several minor episodes arising as well. As the disease progresses across decades the episodic debilitating vertigo becomes less of an issue with the associated progressive hearing loss tending to be the main difficulty. Speech discrimination ability in Meniere’s affected ears is often worse than would arise from a similar sensorineural loss of other causes. Hearing aids and Meniere’s disease requires careful appraisal by the Audiologist and the client needs to be fully aware of what outcomes are most realistic. Hearing aids with memories are often useful as the gain characteristics can be switched dependent upon the state of the diseased ear that varies in degree of loss during and between episodes.
Symptoms of Meniere’s disease are a sensation of aural fullness in the affected ear, a low frequency roaring tinnitus, vertigo, postural unsteadiness, nausea and low tone deafness increasing during an episode that recovers as the attack subsides. Some studies recommend MRI investigations of the vestibule and cochlea to assess if endolymphatic hydrops is present to aid early diagnosis and treatment. A hearing assessment assists greatly in the diagnosis of the disorder particularly when low frequency hearing loss can be demonstrated as per the illustration.