by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A woman explained:
I read one of your articles on the Internet about SSHL (Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss), which I had when I was 11 years old. I had 80% loss in my left ear, which has been permanent. I am now 54 years old. The diagnosis of the cause of the hearing loss was an unknown virus. At the time of the hearing loss I did experience vertigo.
My question is, over the years I have experienced periods of vertigo. Usually one episode every 2 – 3 years. In the past 5 years I have had 4 or 5 episodes. I do not experience hearing loss or tinnitus. The vertigo becomes severe, and I usually have to lie down with my eyes closed for 24 hours on average. Plus in the last few episodes I have had extreme nausea (vomiting every few hours for 24 hours). I have been through extensive tests with an ENT doctor, also had an MRI, and his only opinion is that the vertigo is related to some extra sensitivity related to my nerve deafness. My question is, do people with SSHL often experience vertigo later and throughout their lives as I have described?
I’m not surprised you had some vestibular (balance) problems in addition to your sudden hearing loss. The virus that gets into your cochlea and causes hearing loss, often at the same time, gets into the vestibular system and causes balance problems such as your vertigo. However, that happened many years ago now. I wouldn’t have expected vertigo from back then to still occur. Perhaps these episodes of vertigo are not directly related to the original viral attack.
One possibility is that you may have a form of Meniere’s disease that only affects the vestibular system and not the whole inner ear. It may be called endolymphatic hydrops, but more commonly it is known as vestibular hydrops. This could account for your periodic attacks of vertigo without the accompanying tinnitus and hearing loss. Have your doctors considered this?
Do you have any allergies at all? If so, do the episodes of vertigo correlate to the allergy outbreaks? Often allergies are the underlying cause of Meniere’s disease.