Meniere’s Syndrome: Are You Currently Experiencing Issues with Hearing and Balance?
Veterans experience higher rates of hearing loss and tinnitus than the general population. In fact, hearing loss and tinnitus are the most claimed disabilities by veterans. While hearing loss and tinnitus are the most common conditions of the ear that veterans claim, there are other diseases of the ear that veterans may have but are unaware of.
Are you currently experiencing issues with hearing and balance? It is possible that you suffer from Meniere’s disease (Ménière’s). This condition, and ear conditions like it, may qualify you for VA Disability benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
What Is Meniere’s Syndrome?
Meniere’s syndrome, or Meniere’s disease, is a condition of the inner ear that affects hearing and balance. Meniere’s syndrome is caused by a fluid build-up in the labyrinth, a part of the inner ear. The labyrinth houses structures that support hearing and balance. The elevated fluid build up interferes with nerve signals to the brain which later causes recurring vertigo and hearing impairment. This condition is chronic and does not currently have a cure.
Vertigo is one of the more prevalent symptoms of Meniere’s syndrome. Vertigo is similar to a dizzy spell. Attacks of vertigo feel like the room is spinning or like you are unbalanced. This symptom can last for 20 minutes or as long as 24 hours. You may experience these attacks once a month or multiple times a day, as frequency can vary. These symptoms may be so severe that they hinder daily activities or your ability to work. Other symptoms of Meniere’s syndrome include hearing loss, tinnitus or ringing in the ears, headaches, nausea and sweating.
The exact cause of Meniere’s syndrome is unknown but some researchers believe noise exposure or environmental factors, i.e. exposure to jet fuel, could be a cause. This would make active duty military veterans particularly susceptible to this condition.
What Should You Do If You Have Symptoms?
If you are experiencing a combination of the symptoms discussed, please let your health care provider know and request to be evaluated for Meniere’s disease. An audiometric exam is needed to establish a diagnosis for Meniere’s disease. An audiometric exam tests for hearing loss and other diseases of the ear like Meniere’s disease. The testing typically consists of two parts: a speech discrimination test and a pure-tone test. A speech discrimination test determines your ability to differentiate words. A pure-tone test is a type of hearing test that evaluates your ability to hear sounds at different frequencies and volumes.
In addition, your health care provider may ask questions about your other symptoms. They may ask about the frequency and length of time you experience vertigo, dizziness and/or loss of balance. Your answers to these questions will help them properly diagnosis you and determine the severity of your condition. Therefore, it is very important for you to vocalize your symptoms and explain what you are experiencing as clearly as possible.
How Can You Establish Service Connection?
If you are living with Meniere’s disease or another ear condition it can be difficult to work. This is often due to the risk of losing your balance which is a risk factor along with hearing impairment. Other ear conditions with this effect may include chronic suppurative otitis media, chronic otitis externa, and chronic nonsuppurative otitis media. Veterans who are unable to work due to Meniere’s disease and similar conditions can file a VA disability claim for veterans benefits. Proving factors like individual unemployability and service connection will be key to receiving the appropriate compensation for your condition.
In order to receive VA disability benefits for this condition and other ear conditions, it’s important to first prove military service connection. To successfully establish service connection for conditions like Meniere’s disease, a current diagnosis, you will need evidence of an in-service incident or stressor and nexus statement connecting your current disability to the in-service event. You will need service medical records detailing instances of vertigo, dizziness or dizzy spells and fainting, and statements for fellow servicemen, family or friends that confirm the noise exposure and the symptoms you’ve experienced as a consequence of this exposure.
A medical opinion from an audiologist linking your diagnosis to an incident in service may be beneficial in supporting your claim. This medical evidence will show that you are experiencing hearing impairment and other inner ear difficulties that can hinder your ability to work and complete daily tasks. Based on this evidence, you will receive a VA disability rating for your condition. This rating affects your VA benefits directly.
VA Disability Claims For Ear Conditions: Getting Started
If you have been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease or believe that you suffer from Meniere’s disease, as a result of your time in service, you can file a claim for disability with the Veteran’s Administration by visiting their website. The attorneys at Hill & Ponton are also available to help you with your claim. Our attorneys are dedicated to working with former service members, so veterans can obtain the disability compensation they deserve. If your claim has been denied, contact us today for a free case evaluation.