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Meniere's
October 2001

Q. I am 30-years-old, and have had vertigo and tinnitus since about 18. My ear, nose, throat doctor told me I have Meniere's. He gave me three options for this...

1. Cut out salt from my diet, take water pills, Meclizine, live with it
2. Surgery to sever the (nerve) or something regarding my balance to rid me of the vertigo attacks forever, going deaf and risk partial facial paralysis
3. Injections in my ears to get rid of the vertigo attacks and risk losing some of my hearing

I had chosen #1 but, the attacks are more frequent and disables me for days. I hate the way it makes me feel and it appears the Meclizine is no longer helping. Could you tell me what I can expect from option 3 as far as how the injections are given and how quickly will I notice a hearing loss? Also, if I do lose my hearing, will hearing aids help? Or is option 2 the best option?

Are there any other questions I should ask my ENT?

A. You are right to be cautious about any treatment that might have severe consequences. The first step is to confirm the diagnosis so that treatment options are clear. This should involve some imaging studies such as an MRI of the brain to look for problems such as an acoustic neuroma, a tumor on the nerve for hearing. A neurologist can consult with the ENT doctor on this possibility. Treatment of Meinere's can be quite difficult; here are some informative websites for you:

http://www.familydoctor.org/handouts/096.html

http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hb.htm

http://www.vestibular.org/

http://www.entnet.org/meniere.html

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