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The VA Disability for Meniere’s Disease
The VA Disability for Meniere's Disease
Many Veterans develop hearing impairments and disorders or some form of hearing loss while in the military, regardless of their service branch. This is likely attributable to the constant training near loud equipment, whether that be at the shooting range or while performing specific tasks related to your MOS. However, one ear disability that Veterans often fail to apply for is Department of Veterans Affairs disability claim for Meniere’s disease.
What is Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease is a condition of the ear that can lead to balance and hearing problems. According to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center, Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that can lead to dizzy spells and hearing loss. While Meniere’s syndrome can impact both ears, in most cases, only one ear is affected.
Medical professionals don’t know much about what causes Meniere’s disease, but it is a frustrating and challenging disease to deal with, nonetheless. Its effects on one’s stability and mental wellness can be significant because the disease’s symptoms can be very frustrating and annoying to people.
What Are the Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease is associated with a variety of symptoms related to ear injuries. Mayo Clinic explains that the most common symptoms of Meniere’s disease include:
- Recurring episodes of vertigo: Vertigo is characterized by spinning sensations that start spontaneously and is the most common symptom of Meniere’s disease. The timeframe for a vertigo episode can be anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours. If vertigo is severe enough, you may experience nausea as well.
- Hearing loss: During the early stages of Meniere’s disease, hearing loss may come and go. However, over time the hearing loss may become permanent.
- Tinnitus (Ringing of the ear): The perception of ringing, buzzing, or hissing in the ear.
- Ear pressure: Individuals who have Meniere’s disease may feel as if their ear is full (aural fullness).
Episodes can come and go quickly, with signs and symptoms improving and disappearing at random intervals. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should talk to your medical provider about what may be causing the symptoms.
What Causes Meniere’s Disease?
Currently, there is no known cause of Meniere’s disease. However, the condition appears to occur when there is an overabundance of fluid in the inner ear.
Many factors contribute to the amount of fluid in the inner ear that could cause Meniere’s disease, such as improper fluid draining due to blockage, abnormal immune response, viral infection, and genetic predisposition. These are mostly connected to problems with the inner ear, which is one of the most important areas of the body when it comes to balance and stability. When the inner ear is having problems, there are consistently more issues similar to symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
How Does One Diagnose Meniere’s Disease?
There are many different ways to diagnose Meniere’s disease, and they each tend to go after a different way to identify the root cause of the issue.
The first type of exam is called an Audiometric Exam. This is a test of one’s ability to hear different pitches, sounds, and frequencies. It is entirely non-invasive and painless because it is testing one’s ability to hear different sounds. It is a straightforward exam that tests to see what a person can hear. This is important because people who have Meniere’s Disease often struggle with hearing loss. Identifying a person’s inability to hear different sounds is very important when trying to diagnose the disease.
Another common diagnosis exam that people commonly go through is called an Electronystagmography. This is a test of a person’s balance and ability to function in a healthy and normal way in terms of stability. It focuses on testing one’s proneness to vertigo, which is a condition that has a lot of linkage to poor balance. The test is relatively simple and helps doctors when trying to understand how Meniere’s disease is affecting a patient.
Another common test is called Electrocochleography. This test examines how much fluid is within someone’s inner ear and uses that information to conclude how that is affecting a person’s symptoms. Meniere’s disease results from various problems within the inner ear, and a root cause of those problems is commonly having an excessive amount of fluid buildup in the inner ear. This is what causes tinnitus, balance problems, and many other symptoms of Meniere’s disease. Having this test can help to specify and nail down the root cause of the issues, leading to a quicker and better diagnosis of the problems.
These are just some of the tests that a Veteran might be asked to do to diagnose their Meniere’s disease. There are some others, but most fall into similar areas as these tests. They tend to be fairly painless and mostly non-invasive. These are essential ways to help Veterans understand their own condition and make progress in getting fully healthy again.
Treatment for Meniere’s Disease
There are multiple ways to treat Meniere’s disease. Generally, most treatments tend to fall into either medications or lifestyle changes. However, even if one treatment is prescribed, it can be very helpful to use both types of treatment, as the doctor suggests. Medication and other forms of therapy often work on different types of healing and can typically accomplish more healing when used together.
A common type of medication used to combat the symptoms of Meniere’s disease is medication for motion sickness. This typically helps with vertigo, which is a main symptom of the condition. It can help with the day-to-day problems that Meniere’s disease can cause and ensure that the person can operate on a normal basis more often. Excess nausea and motion sickness that comes along with Meniere’s disease can be very debilitating. Having something that will enable the person to keep functioning regularly despite the symptoms is incredibly helpful.
One type of medication that is often prescribed is diuretics. These are drugs and medications that are focused on reducing the amount of fluid inside of a body. This is very important for this condition because excessive amounts of fluid in the inner ear is generally agreed upon to be the main cause of Meniere’s disease. Eliminating or lessening this through diuretics can help bring the level of fluid in the inner ear down to a healthy level. This can have a dramatic effect on the disease and can potentially bring a lot of healing to a person’s condition.
Apart from medication, there are other ways that the symptoms of Meniere’s disease can be treated. Physical therapy can help people who are struggling with balance and help them regain the stability and balance that is lost through the effects of the condition. A specific type of therapy that may help is called vestibular rehabilitation therapy. This type of therapy attempts to retrain the brain to use different types of sensory input to help with balance and stability. The brain naturally uses the inner ear, but if that grows to be less reliable due to other conditions, it can help assign those neurological duties to other places.
Receiving VA Disability for Meniere’s Disease
To receive VA disability claim for Meniere’s disease, you must first prove service connection for the condition. Basically, you must show the VA that the condition was caused by military service. To prove the injury occurred due to active duty, you must provide medical evidence such as:
- Have a current medical diagnosis for the disability with your medical records
- Have an in-service event or stressor that caused the disability
- A medical nexus connecting the in-service event to your current disability
A medical opinion from an audiologist could be very important in helping prove your condition was caused by military service.
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