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NIDCD Highlights

NIH Health Forum Explains Commonly Misunderstood Diseases

Illustration of the balance organ 
Ménière’s disease, a disorder of the inner
ear, was one of the topics discussed at
the NIH forum.
Credit: NIH Medical Arts

Have you ever experienced dizziness accompanied by ringing in the ears and wondered what was happening and why? Or have you experienced the pain and itching of shingles and wondered where it came from? Such commonly experienced, though not commonly understood, conditions were recently discussed at a Science for the Public program, titled From Amblyopia to Zits: A Health Fair Forum. The forum was sponsored by NIH’s Staff Training in Extramural Programs effort, or STEP, and held on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md.

The NIDCD’s program officer for extramural clinical trials, Gordon Hughes, M.D., delivered a presentation on Ménière's disease, a disorder of the inner ear that causes severe dizziness (vertigo), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear. Dr. Hughes outlined the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of Ménière's disease, based on his vast clinical experience treating patients at the Cleveland Clinic Head and Neck Institute, where he was for many years before coming to the NIDCD. He introduced readily available therapies that physicians use to control the disease symptoms: from the standard of care, which includes a low-salt diet, diuretics (water pills), and observation; to a device that patients can use to deliver pulses of air to the middle ear at the onset of an episode; to, in more severe cases, methods such as middle and inner ear surgeries. He also presented the pros and cons of each available treatment and talked about the profile of the best candidate for each therapy.

Read about Ménière's disease on the NIDCD website.