British singer Jessie J recently revealed that she's been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease, writing in an Instagram post that the condition made her feel like "someone crawled" into her ear "and turned a hair dryer on."
Ménière’s disease is a disorder affecting the inner ear, which can lead to severe dizziness, ringing in the ear and hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Diseases (NIDCD). The 32-year-old musician said in her post that she had to watch Netflix hit "The Queen's Gambit" with her finger in her ear because her struggle to hear made it hard to focus.
Over the weekend, J updated fans about her recovery on her Instagram story, which she later posted to her Instagram profile. She said she previously felt "completely deaf" in her right ear and "couldn't walk in a straight line."
“I know that a lot of people suffer from (Ménière's), and I’ve actually had a lot of people reach out to me and give me great advice," she added.
J continued: "I was in the ear hospital going, ‘What is going on?’ But I’m glad I went early and they worked out what it was real quick and I got put on the right medicine, and I feel much better today. ... I've just been laying low in silence. That's the first time I’ve been able to sing and bear it. ... I just miss singing so much and being around anyone."
J isn't the only musician to be diagnosed with the disorder. Huey Lewis, frontman of Huey Lewis and the News, announced in 2018 that he was living with Ménière’s, telling TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager that he feared he might "never sing again." In 2019, he said he was suicidal after he was first diagnosed.
"I can't hear music. It's hard enough to hear speech, but music is impossible," he said in a 2019 interview. "I can actually get better sometimes, where I think 'Oh my gosh, I can almost sing.' And I have sung twice in the last two years, when my hearing was better. And I sang one song acoustically. But I couldn't do it for a set."
What are symptoms of Ménière’s disease?
The symptoms are caused by the buildup of fluid in the compartments of the inner ear. According to Erin Bean, an audiologist and professor in the department of otolaryngology at New York University, hearing loss associated with Ménière’s "can vary, and typically it will happen in recurrent episodes, with, over time, the hearing getting worse and worse." Other common symptoms include dizziness or vertigo so severe that it can cause balance issues.
"In the beginning, it can fluctuate and get much worse and return to normal, but typically, over time, the return to normal is much less, and people are left with longer periods of sensory-neural hearing loss," Bean told TODAY in 2019.
A study from 2014 found that musicians are almost four times more likely to experience noise-induced hearing loss than other people and that they're 57% more likely to suffer from tinnitus, or a constant ringing in the ears.
What are the causes of Ménière’s disease?
Ménière’s disease is not noise-induced, Bean said. According to NIDCD, there are many theories on what causes Ménière’s, such as constrictions in blood vessels and allergic or infectious responses, but no real answers. The condition can occur at any age, but it is more likely to affect adults between 40 and 60 years old. Because it tends to run in families, there may be a genetic component to what causes the disease.
What is Ménière’s disease treatment?
It does not have a cure, but there are several options for treatment including medications, dietary or behavioral changes, surgery and more.
If you think you could be suffering from this condition talk to your doctor about next steps.
This story has been updated to include a new Instagram post from Jessie J about her condition.