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Balance Awareness Week 2023 - Discussing Meniere's Disease

Kimberley Bradshaw - Head of Marketing
Written By:
Kimberley Bradshaw

Head of Customer Content Experience

Paul Harrison Hearing Aid UK Founder & Audiologist
Medically Reviewed By:
Paul Harrison

Audiology Expert & Founder

Updated: 18th October 2023
Balance Awareness Week 2023

Balance Awareness Week 2023

Discussing Menieres Disease

 

Balance Awareness Week 2023, 17th - 23rd September 2023

#BalanceAwarenessWeek2023

Balance Awareness Week is a dedicated annual event that aims to raise awareness about balance disorders and their impact on individuals' lives. Taking place typically in the third week of September, this observance seeks to educate the public about the intricacies of the vestibular system and its role in maintaining balance and spatial orientation.

It provides a platform for promoting understanding, support, and resources for individuals living with balance disorders, as well as their families and caregivers. Balance Awareness Week highlights the importance of early detection, accurate diagnosis, and appropriate management of balance disorders, ultimately fostering a more inclusive and accessible society for those affected.

 

An introduction to Meniere's disease

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes episodes of vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear. The exact cause of Meniere's disease is not known, but it is believed to be related to an excess of fluid, also known as endolymph, in the inner ear.

The condition typically affects only one ear and can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. There is no cure for Meniere's disease, but various treatments, including medications, lifestyle changes, and in severe cases, surgery, can help manage the symptoms.

In this article, we discuss the symptoms, treatments and the Meniere's and hearing loss link.

 

Meneire's disease and hearing loss

Hearing loss is a common symptom of Meniere's disease. The hearing loss can be fluctuating, where the person can have periods of normal hearing followed by episodes of sudden hearing loss.  On the other hand, it can be progressive, where the hearing loss gradually becomes permanent over time. 

People with Meniere's disease may also experience tinnitus and vertigo in addition to hearing loss. Treatment for hearing loss in Meniere's disease often involves managing the underlying condition to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. In severe cases, hearing aids or cochlear implants may be recommended to improve hearing and quality of life.

 

Symptoms of Meniere's disease

The main symptoms of Meniere's disease include:

  • Vertigo: This is a type of dizziness that causes a feeling of spinning or unsteadiness.
  • Tinnitus: Ringing or other sounds in the ear, such as buzzing, hissing, or whistling.
  • Hearing loss: The hearing loss associated with Meniere's disease can be fluctuating or progressive and can affect one or both ears.
  • A feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear: Some people with Meniere's disease may feel pressure or fullness in their affected ear.

 

These symptoms can occur separately or together and can vary in frequency and severity. It's important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing symptoms of Meniere's disease, as early treatment can help manage the condition and prevent further hearing loss.

There is no definitive test for Meniere's Disease, so often it can be misdiagnosed, as Doctor's go off your symptoms alone and they have the same symptoms as other balance disorders.  Even so, it is always best to see your local GP to find the appropriate treatment for you.

 

Balance, hearing loss and Meniere's disease

 Balance Awareness Week 2023

What type of treatments can help Meniere's disease?

 

Treatment for Meniere's disease

The treatment for Meniere's disease typically involves a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, surgery. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms, improve quality of life, and prevent further hearing loss. Some common treatments include:

  • Medications: Anti-vertigo drugs can be used to treat the vertigo symptoms of Meniere's disease. For example, diuretics can also be used to reduce fluid build-up in the inner ear.
  • Diet and lifestyle changes: Limiting salt and caffeine intake, avoiding trigger foods and drinks, and stress management can help reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.
  • Vestibular rehabilitation therapy: This type of therapy can help improve balance and reduce dizziness.
  • Surgery: In severe cases where the above treatments are not effective, surgery may be recommended. For example, a procedure called labyrinthectomy involves removing the damaged part of the inner ear to stop vertigo symptoms.

 

Benefits of hearing aids to support Meneire's disease

Hearing aids can provide several benefits for individuals with Meniere's disease, such as:

  • Improved hearing: Hearing aids can amplify sound and improve overall hearing, helping to reduce the symptoms of hearing loss associated with Meniere's disease.
  • Reduced tinnitus: Some hearing aids have tinnitus masking features that can help reduce the symptoms of tinnitus.
  • Better balance: Improved hearing can help individuals with Meniere's disease maintain better balance, reducing the risk of falls and improving overall mobility.
  • Improved quality of life: Hearing aids can greatly improve the overall quality of life for individuals with Meniere's disease by reducing the impact of hearing loss and tinnitus on daily activities and communication.

 

In conclusion

Hearing aids are not a cure for Meniere's disease, but they can provide significant benefits in managing the symptoms.  Treatment for Meniere's disease can vary depending on the severity and frequency of symptoms and the individual's specific needs.

It's best to consult a healthcare professional and audiologist to tackle both Meniere's disease and hearing loss for a personalised treatment plan.

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Considering hearing aids to support your Meniere's disease?

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This article was written by Paul Harrison

Meet Paul Harrison, Audiology Expert & Founder

Managing Director & founder of Hearing Aid UK, with over 20 years of audiology experience and a member of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists Council (BSHAA) between 2015-2020.

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Common FAQs about hearing aids and hearing loss

Is this the best model for me?

If you are looking at this page then it is likely that an audiologist has suggested that you purchase this particular hearing aid, so is this the best model for you?

In general, any audiologist will always be recommending to you the model that best suits your needs. Here is a useful check list to make sure that is the case.

  • Audiologist level of knowledge. The audiologist you have seen will hopefully have a wide knowledge of all available hearing aids, however some will only be familiar with a small number of brands and therefore may not really be in a position to know which model is the best for you. It is OK to challenge their recommendation and ask them to justify why this particular brand is the one for you.
  • Do research. Read about the hearing aid that was recommended. Does it seem like it will suit your lifestyle? Does it have more or less features than you need? 
  • Be aware of sales targets. Many high street retailers have specific tie-ins to a particular manufacturer/brand. The hearing aid they have suggested may still be the correct one for you, but do your research so that you know why they might have recommended it.

If in doubt, feel free to give us a call. That's what we're here for.

Do I need one hearing aid or two?

If you have a significant hearing loss in both ears, you should be wearing two hearing aids. Here are the audiological reasons why:

Localisation. The brain decodes information from both ears and compares and contrasts them. By analysing the miniscule time delays as well as the difference in loudness of each sound reaching the ears, the person is able to accurately locate a sound source. Simply put, if you have better hearing on one side than the other, you can't accurately tell what direction sounds are coming from.

Less amplification required. A phenomena known as “binaural summation” means that the hearing aids can be set at a lower and more natural volume setting than than if you wore only one hearing aid.

Head shadow effect. High frequencies, the part of your hearing that gives clarity and meaning to speech sounds, cannot bend around your head. Only low frequencies can. Therefore if someone is talking on your unaided side you are likely to hear that they are speaking, but be unable to tell what they have said.

Noise reduction. The brain has it’s own built in noise reduction which is only really effective when it is receiving information from both ears. If only one ear is aided, even with the best hearing aid in the world, it will be difficult for you to hear in background noise as your brain is trying to retain all of the sounds (including background noise) rather than filtering it out.

Sound quality. We are designed to hear in stereo. Only hearing from one side sounds a lot less natural to us.

What are the benefits of rechargeable hearing aids?

For most people, the main benefit of a rechargeable hearing aid is simple convenience. We are used to plugging in our phones and other devices overnight for them to charge up. 

For anybody with poor dexterity or issues with their fingers, having a rechargeable aid makes a huge difference as normal hearing aid batteries are quite small and some people find them fiddly to change.

One downside is that if you forget to charge your hearing aid, then it is a problem that can't be instantly fixed. For most a 30 minute charge will get you at least two or three hours of hearing, but if you are the type of person who is likely to forget to plug them in regularly then you're probably better off with standard batteries.

Rechargeable aids are also a little bit bigger and are only available in behind the ear models.

Finally, just like with a mobile phone, the amount of charge you get on day one is not going to be the same as you get a few years down the line. Be sure to ask what the policy is with the manufacturer warranty when it comes to replacing the battery.

 

Are behind the ear aids better than in the ear aids?

For most people, the answer is yes. But it's never that simple.

The majority of hearing problems affect the high frequencies a lot more than the low ones. Therefore open fitting hearing aids sound a lot more natural and ones that block your ears up can make your own voice sound like you are talking with your head in a bucket. Therefore in-ear aids tend to be less natural.

However the true answer is we can't tell until we have had a look in your ears to assess the size of your ear canal, and until we have tested your hearing to see which frequencies are being affected.

People with wider ear canals tend to have more flexibility, also there are open fitting modular CIC hearing aids now that do not block your ears.

There is also the age old rule to consider, that a hearing aid will not help you if it's sat in the drawer gathering dust. If the only hearing aid you would be happy wearing is one that people can't see, then that's what you should get.

Most people can adapt to any type of hearing aid, as long as they know what to expect. Have an honest conversation with your audiologist as to what your needs are.

What are channels, and how many do I need?

Generally speaking, six or more. Unless it's none at all.

The number of channels a hearing aid has is often a simplistic way an audiologist will use to explain why one hearing aid is better than another, but channels are complex and it is really not that straightforward.

Hearing aids amplify sounds of different frequencies by different amounts. Most people have lost more high frequencies than low and therefore need more amplification in the high frequencies. The range of sounds you hear are split into frequency bands or channels and the hearing aids are set to provide the right amount of hearing at each frequency level.

Less than six channels and this cannot be done with much accuracy, so six is the magic number. However, a six channel aid is typically very basic with few other features and is suitable only for hearing a single speaker in a quiet room. The number of channels is not what you should be looking at, it's more the rest of the technology that comes with them.

As a final note, different manufacturers have different approaches. One method is not necessarily better than any other. For example some manufacturers have as many as 64 channels in their top aids. Most tend to have between 17 and 20. One manufacturer has no channels at all.

Where can I get the hearing aids covered?

Hearing aids are easily lost, misplaced or damaged and typically are one of the most expensive personal possessions an individual can own. We offer hearing aid warranty cover for £80 per year per aid.  Find out more here

How much does the hearing test cost?

All our audiologists use the very latest technology and provide the full range of tests to accurately measure your hearing for free.  Find out about what we offer all our customers here

Do home visits cost extra?

Hearing Aid UK offers all their customers free home visiting services and home visits for hearing aids - Including hearing tests, fittings, maintenance, check-ups and much more in the comfort of your own home and at your convenience.  Find out more information here

How come you're much cheaper than other places?

Here, at Hearing Aid UK, we are dedicated to offering low hearing aid prices. We achieve this by having no head office and low marketing costs.   Our hearing aid prices are amongst the lowest you will find anywhere in the world.

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