Ear Updates and all that Jazz

Well, back to the thing that has consumed much of my thoughts lately… my dumb ear and its inability to get its shit together.

Saw an ENT at the UW Madison yesterday and they were able to confirm that I have some slight hearing loss in my right ear.  They expect that it will fluctuate (get better and get worse) as the episodes of ear ringing / nausea / vertigo / ear fullness continue to happen.

The diagnosis is Endolymphatic Hydrops.

Endolymphatic hydrops refers to a condition of increased hydraulic pressure within the inner ear endolymphatic system. Excess pressure accumulation in the endolymph can cause a tetrad of symptoms: (1) fluctuating hearing loss, (2) occasional episodic vertigo (usually a spinning sensation, sometimes violent), (3) tinnitus or ringing in the ears (usually low-tone roaring), and (4) aural fullness (eg, pressure, discomfort, fullness sensation in the ears).

There is a chance it is Meniere’s Disease, but that official diagnosis comes after a few more tests rule out anything else.

Whether it’s Endolympatic Hydrops or Meniere’s really almost doesn’t matter because either way there isn’t really a “cure” and the treatment is the same.  Since they don’t really know what causes it, and can’t really predict “episodes” (a combination of the 4 symptoms listed above)… there isn’t anything I can take (like a magic bean) that makes it go away.

They recommend a low salt diet (under 1500mg), which surprisingly (and luckily) isn’t that hard when I’m really watching what I’m eating.  I already make most of my food at home and most of it pretty natural, so that isn’t so much of a game-changer.  They also recommend keeping caffeine and alcohol to a minimum. Which might sound bad to someone who does not get stricken with vertigo that moves the whole friggin’ world, but it all seems reasonable to me if it means longer spells in between episodes.

I’m still working out almost every day since that is recommended as well, gives your brain more information. You know like, “hey brain, lookey here… I’m not continuously on a roller coaster, nope nope”.  More brain info = good stuff in the long run.  I also journal so I can see the patterns in ear ringing (most common of my symptoms, about every other day), vertigo, nausea, etc.

All that being said, I had another episode this morning, the second ‘big’ one in two weeks, and it was just as awful as the first one.  I rolled over in bed around 5am and went from, “ugh, my ear is still ringing” to “for the love of god someone is playing basketball with the earth” to “I wonder if I can vomit here?” to “Who cares <insert tossed cookies>”.  Luckily I felt surprisingly good about two hours later.  Still very tired from the stress of my body not knowing WTF is going on… but other than that pretty decent.

So, since I have very little control over what’s happening… I’m trying my best to stay positive, mindful, in the moment… yadda yadda.  Some days are better than other days.  And some days are a mix of good and bad.

Luckily I still have 10 fingers, 10 toes, m&m’s don’t have a ton of sodium, and a sparkling sense of humor.  So, it could be worse… m&m’s could be high in sodium.


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