Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis and the News fame was recently diagnosed with Meniere's disease after finding himself unable to perform at a show in Dallas. The singer of such great hits as, “The Heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “If This Is It,” and “Hip to Be a Square,” recounted the moment he knew something was wrong: "As I walked to the stage, it sounded like there was a jet engine going on. I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t find pitch.”
“Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes several symptoms including vertigo, or the feeling of spinning; progressive hearing loss, and ultimately the permanent loss of hearing; tinnitus, or ringing in the ear; and occasionally a feeling of pressure in your ear,” says Audiologist Dr. Annette Garced-Santiago. Luckily, Meniere's disease usually only affects one ear.
What Causes Meniere’s Disease?
“Meniere's disease is caused by an excessive accumulation of endolymphatic fluid,” says Dr. Garced-Santiago. “Our inner ear — which is the organ of hearing — is also the home of our vestibular system, which is in charge of helping us maintain our balance. When our body moves, this endolymphatic fluid stimulates our nervous receptors and these receptors send our brain a signal about our changes in position and movement. When there is an excessive accumulation of this fluid, our vestibular system is not able to send a coherent signal to our brain causing loss of balance, dizziness or spinning vertigo. It can also affect hearing ability.”
Dr. Garced-Santiago explained that sometimes there isn’t one clear cause of Meniere’s. “Researchers are still trying to identify what could be triggering the condition; although stress, fatigue and high sodium intake appear to be contributing factors.”
Meniere's disease can occur at any age, but usually develops between the ages of 20 and 50. And while it's a chronic condition, various treatments and therapy can help relieve some symptoms and minimize its impact on your life.
At 67, Lewis developed the condition later than most and while disheartened at having to cancel his current tour schedule, he remains optimistic at his chances of beating it. In an interview with the Today Show he said, “I haven’t come to grips with the fact that I may never sing again. I’m still hoping I’m gonna get better. They say a positive attitude is important.”
Treatments for Meniere’s Disease
While there is no cure for Meniere's disease, there are treatments and therapies for mitigating its effects in the short term. His doctors and therapists have put him on a new dietary regimen to which he says, “No caffeine, lower salt, and keep your fingers crossed. It can get better. It just hasn’t yet.”
At Florida Hospital Hearing Centers, our team provides a variety of hearing health care services including comprehensive testing and diagnosis for adults and children with hearing problems. What makes us unique is our highly trained staff and our commitment to providing the best possible care while serving your individual needs.
Our team works closely with other health care professionals, such as Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, and Vestibular Therapists to provide the highest level of Audiology care available.
Our physicians and the Audiology team will evaluate you in order to provide a well-rounded treatment plan. An evaluation may include a test to diagnose the cause of your vertigo by testing the vestibular system. This non-invasive procedure tests for Meniere's disease and Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP).
If you have been having symptoms of Meniere's disease, or hearing loss in general, please reach out by going to FHSportsMed.com/Hearing or call 407-303-8080 to make an appointment for an evaluation. Our specialists are here for you on your path to wellness.