It began with frequent vertigo episodes. Doctors eventually diagnosed the dizzy spells as Meniere’s Disease, and it began to affect her hearing.
Being hard-of-hearing myself, I always relied her to fill in the gaps that I missed if we were out in public or if I was talking to someone with her. When she began to lose her hearing, she began relying a bit more on me to help her hear, which was a totally different role.
My mom experienced the most difficulty with the transition to living with hearing loss, and of course everyone in my family supported her as much as we could. The Meniere’s disease left her with a new set of challenges she had never experienced before, but one thing has really helped her throughout her journey: her hearing aids.
“Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes episodes in which you feel as if you’re spinning (vertigo) and you have fluctuating hearing loss with a progressive ultimately permanent loss of hearing, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and sometimes a feeling of fullness or pressure in your ear,”according to the Mayo Clinic. “In most cases, Meniere’s disease affects only one ear.”
Are you winded from reading that definition?
It is not hopeful and it’s confusing, which are the feelings that those with Meniere’s disease often experience.
The disease is wildly unpredictable. Some people will go years without it and then all of a sudden experience the worst of it without warning. Others may experience symptoms on a daily basis.
For my mom, it started out with just a plugged ear. Her first vertigo episode occurred in 2008, but she wasn’t diagnosed with Meniere’s disease until 2012.
A few years later, she got her hearing tested, after learning that the disease can cause hearing loss. (Before having her hearing tested she thought that she had temporary hearing loss from her plugged ear.) She learned that her hearing had been permanently damaged in her right ear. She had moderate to severe hearing loss, which could progress to a profound hearing loss. Immediately she was fit with a Phonak hearing aid.
When my mom received her hearing aid, she says she didn’t feel any of the social stigmas that are attached to hearing loss, because I was born with a hearing loss and have worn hearing aids for so long.
“I felt like I was more prepared and knew the process of getting a hearing aid,” she told me. “I think that if you didn’t have a hearing loss, I would have had a different reaction to finding out I am hard of hearing. So many adults have a hearing loss but refuse to wear hearing aids because they don’t want to look “old.”
“At 52 years old, I welcomed a hearing aid.”
“This long time stigma needs to change as hearing loss can occur at any age. Wearing a hearing aid is no different than wearing eyeglasses for sight. At 52 years old, I welcomed a hearing aid.”
My mom says her hearing aid has helped her a lot to manage the symptoms of her Meniere’s disease. It hasn’t completely allowed her to hear like she used to, but it helps more with her balance and dizziness. When she doesn’t wear her hearing aid, she says it could ruin her whole day. The amplification from the hearing aid helps her feel a bit more equalized with her other ear. Without the hearing aid, her ear feels full and uneven with the other ear causing vertigo.
A hearing aid might not help everyone with Meniere’s Disease. But my mom wanted others to know about what it has done for her in hopes that it could do the same for others.
To learn more about Meniere’s disease to understand the symptoms watch this video.
Do you know someone with Meniere’s disease? Did a hearing aid help them? Let us know in the comments below!