A research report that various conditions are diagnosed that lead to a permanent disability of hearing loss and dizziness, which makes it difficult to lead a normal life. Perilymph fistula is one such condition. It is known as a defect or tears in one or both the thin membranes known as the oval window and the round window.
These membranes work to separate the middle ear from the inner ear. Your middle ear is filled with air, whereas the inner ear is filled with a fluid known as perilymph.
The rupture in any of the membrane leads to the leakage of the perilymph fluid from the inner ear to the middle ear. The flow of fluid leads to a change in pressure in your middle ear, which is responsible for affecting your balance or make you feel dizzy and lead to a permanent loss of hearing ability.
Generally, when changes in air pressure occur in the middle ear, the inner ear is not affected. But, the presence of perilymph fistula and changes in air pressure in the middle ear affects the inner ear, which is responsible for stimulating balance and hearing. It may even further lead to perilymph fistula symptoms in a person.
The perilymphatic fluid present in the inner ear is high in sodium content and is connected to the cerebrospinal fluid from which the brain is surrounded. A person experiencing perilymph fistula may experience mild headaches which is an indication for an onset of a situation.
A person who is experiencing perilymph fistula symptoms gets quite frustrated as they are unable to explain what they are going through to others. They look completely fine to the outer world and hence experience it challenging to explain their condition the same as vestibular disorders to friends and family. Seeking medical help is recommended as soon as you start observing perilymph fistula symptoms. An expert doctor will diagnose the underlying condition closely and would suggest the best perilymph fistula treatment. If the condition becomes serious your doctor may even advise you undergoing perilymph fistula surgery for a speedy recovery. It is advised to maintain your calm as you undergo perilymph fistula treatment or in a phase of perilymph fistula surgery recovery. It will help you to cope up with the perilymph fistula symptoms much faster than you expect.
What are Perilymph fistula symptoms?
Patients experiencing perilymph fistula may experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In some patients, Perilymph fistula symptoms are hardly noticeable while others may experience the trigger in symptoms due to various daily activities. A patient suffering from Perilymph fistula may experience disturbance in one ear at a time. In some severe cases, patients may experience head trauma along with other Perilymph fistula symptoms which lead to bilateral perilymph fistulas. Many patients experience that Perilymph fistula symptoms get triggered due to changes in altitude. For eg when you are traveling over a mountain or in airplanes or walking on elevators. Lifting heavy weights, bending over or usual activity like coughing and sneezing may even make the condition worse if the patient is suffering from fistula. Hearing loss and disturbance in balance is the common Perilymph fistula symptoms.
Let’s have a look at some common Perilymph fistula symptoms
- Bouts of dizziness
- Vertigo where a person experiences a spinning sensation
- A feeling of ear fullness
- Disturbance in hearing ability or sensitive hearing
- Sudden Hearing loss
- Difficulty in maintaining balance or unsteadiness
- Tinnitus (ringing sensation in the inner ear)
- Persistent or mild nausea
- Motion intolerance or motion sickness
- Memory loss in some cases
- Headaches ranging from mild to severe
Perilymph fistula symptoms may get worse with time with simple activities like sneezing, laughing, lifting weights, etc. as it builds pressure on cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain.
What causes Perilymph fistula?
When a person experiences extreme air pressure or rapid changes in pressure it is one such cause of Perilymph fistula. You may experience a change in pressure due to various things starting from traveling in the air, scuba diving or heavy weight lifting.
Apart from the changes in air pressure, head trauma is one of the most common causes of Perilymph fistula. It usually leads to a direct blow to the head and in some cases leads to a “whiplash” injury. Some people may develop Perilymph fistula ever since birth and some may experience it developing at a later stage without any apparent cause. Old injury can be one such cause that leads to Perilymph fistula later in life.
Let’s have a look at some other common causes Perilymph fistula:
- Ear trauma
- Eardrum perforated by objects
- Ear block
- A rapid increase in intracranial pressure
- Head trauma
- Old injury
- Exposure to very loud sounds close to your ear which includes the sound of gunfire
- Present since birth
- Head injury
- Ear infections or disorders
- When eardrum gets punctured it leads to fistulas
- Experiencing whiplash
- Blowing your nose very hard
In some cases, Perilymph fistula is present since birth. Whereas in other patients other above-mentioned causes may be the reason that leads to the onset of Perilymph fistula symptoms in a patient. It is recommended to seek medical help to get the right perilymph fistula treatment to cure the condition completely. An expert doctor will diagnose the underlying condition closely which is responsible for such an ailment and would suggest treatment accordingly. If the condition is not sought in time it may even blur the memory of the patient over time. Perilymph fistula generally affects one ear, in some very rare cases, it may occur in both ears due to severe injury in the head.
Diagnosis and treatment for Perilymph fistula
Diagnosing perilymph fistula is not an easy task for doctors. Perilymph fistula symptoms such as dizziness, ear fullness, hearing & balance loss, etc. may look similar to Meniere disease, an inner ear disorder. Treatment of both the condition varies, so it becomes important for the doctor to diagnose the condition accurately.
Your doctor may carry various tests to diagnose the condition and may even seek your complete medical history to examine the accurate cause of Perilymph fistula.
A perilymph fistula test, Hearing tests, balance tests, CT scans, MRI scans, electrocochleography tests, etc are some of the common tests used to diagnose the condition. These tests help the doctor to examine the activity happening inside your inner ear and to detect the abnormal fluid pressure. A perilymph fistula test is used to track the movement of your eyes.
As the condition is diagnosed your doctor will suggest the best perilymph fistula treatment depending on the underlying cause and the Perilymph fistula symptoms experienced by the patient.
1. Rest and restrict some activities
Simple bed rest and restricting some activities for some time is the best treatment suggested by doctors if the case is not that severe. It may lead to an improvement in the condition within no time.
2. Blood patch injection
Your doctor may even suggest you with a new perilymph fistula treatment known as blood patch injection. In this treatment, your blood is injected in your middle ear which patches the ruptured membrane.
3. Perilymph fistula surgery
If other perilymph fistula treatment doesn’t seem to work your doctor may recommend undergoing perilymph fistula surgery. It helps in patching the oval and round window areas of the ruptured membrane. It is advised to restrict some activities and get bed rest soon after the surgery for a few weeks for speedy perilymph fistula surgery recovery. Your doctor will advise you on limiting certain activities like lifting weights and activities that cause strain. Follow the doctor’s advice after undergoing perilymph fistula surgery to heal completely.