The 32-year-old singer took to Instagram Live to share the news. According to Ménière’s Society, Meniere’s is a progressive condition that affects the inner ear. It results in balance and hearing problems.
Shortly before Christmas, Jessie J told fans that she experienced sudden hearing loss in her right ear. When the singer took to Instagram last month, she said that the attack rendered her “completely deaf in my right ear.” She also said she was unable to “walk in a straight line.”
“Basically I got told I had Meniere’s syndrome,” she said. “I know that a lot of people suffer from it and I’ve actually had a lot of people reach out to me and give me great advice, so I’ve just been laying low in silence.”
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The cause of Meniere’s is not known, making it difficult to treat. The disease presents in three stages, according to Ménière’s Society. In stage one, the person may suffer from periodic onsets of vertigo (feeling off balance and dizzy). During this, a person may experience tinnitus and hearing loss for the duration of the attack. This can vary from minutes to hours. Time between attacks is considered remission. It varies from person to person.
In stage two, bouts of vertigo continue. Hearing loss changes in that it becomes permanent rather than temporary. Tinnitus becomes more common. In the final stage, vertigo attacks are not as common. The hearing loss worsens. Balance issues can become more severe.
When it comes to Jessie J’s diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease, she said on Instagram: “It could be way worse, it is what it is. I’m super grateful for my health. It just threw me off. I’m glad I went early and they worked out what it was real quick and I got put on the right medicine.”
Though the hearing in her right ear did return, she says the sensation during the attack was an odd one, leaving it difficult to focus even on watching Netflix.
“I’ve done the first episode 4 times because I [have] zero focus and my ear sounds like someone crawled in and turned a hair dryer on,” she said.
After her announcement, the singer again took to Instagram again to set the record straight after some media coverage.
“I have often in the past been open and honest about health challenges I have faced. Big or small. This was no different,” she said. “…Since going live I have watched the media take 3 words from this live and create a very dramatic version of the truth. I’m not surprised but I also know I too have the power to set the story straight. I’m not posting this for sympathy – I’m posting this because this is the truth. I don’t want anyone thinking I lied about what actually happened. I wasn’t aware of Meniere’s before now. I hope this raises awareness for all the people who have been suffering way longer or worse than I.”
“I wasn’t aware of Meniere’s before now. I hope this raises awareness for all the people who have been suffering way longer or worse than I.”
Jessie J isn’t the only celebrity to be diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. In 2018, Huey Lewis and the News canceled tour dates due to Lewis’ hearing loss, which was a result of Meniere’s.
“You know at first it was—suicidal, tormenting,” he told People. “I have loud tinnitus, I lose my hearing, I realize I can’t sing, I’m miserable, I’m laying in bed all day, I’m contemplating my demise. Horrible stuff, just awful. I finally came to the conclusion that I just have to think positive, be creative, and hope my body will take care of things,” he said. “But I’m not giving up. I think if I can stabilize, then maybe I can figure out how to sing again.”
Singer and songwriter Ryan Adams has also struggled with Meniere’s episodes. Specifically, he says, when on stage and triggered by lights.
“Having to play was like having a panic attack, and the panic attack would make me have a Meniere episode,” he told Us Weekly. “And the Meniere’s episode would make me forget a lyric, or I would feel like I was going to fall down on stage. So there was a great amount of psychological damage that it did, there was a great amount of stage fright that culminated from this.”