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Pilots and "Menieres Disease" - The Silent Illness By Gary Bowers
Menieres Disease is a condition not well known, yet devastating to thousands of people nationwide, including aviators. The disease is named after the French physician Prosper Meniere who, in 1861, linked a particular kind of hearing loss to a lesion of the inner ear. The definition of Menieres Disease is "idiopathic syndrome of endolymphatic hydrops." This means that Menieres Disease has no known cause (is idiopathic), is characterized by a group of signs and symptoms, and is thought to be associated with endolymphatic hydrops, an abnormal enlargement of the innermost of the two fluid-filled spaces of the inner ear. Unfortunately this enlargement cannot be seen or measured with absolute certainty during the llifetime of a human being.

The symptoms include aural pressure (a feeling of occasional to constant pressure in one or both ears), tinnitus (ringing in the ears), hearing loss, and vertigo. What does this mean to a pilot? GROUNDED! It ended Alan Shepard's career as an astronaut. A person who suffers from Menieres Disease can experience some or all of the above symptoms. Some people have vertigo attacks that are so bad that they are completely disabled by the disease.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that about 545,000 in the U.S. had Menieres as of 1998 and that 38,250 people are diagnosed each year. There are no known causes or cures and only limited treatment options available.

For detailed information about this disease, please visit http://www.theearfound.com The Ear Foundation

The Menieres Disease Awareness Flight The Awareness Flight, as the name implies, is intended to raise awareness and gain attention nationwide for the thousands of people who battle Menieres Disease daily. Our goal is to attain adequate support, both monetarily and through corporate donations of the aircraft and other necessary equipment, to launch our campaign at Oshkosh this year. We hope to cover the Capitol cities of 48 states in an ultralight, preferably a helicopter or gyro, discuss the disease with the media and visit the leaders of each state. From there we go to Washington to lobby congress for research funding to help combat this devastating disease.

For information on how you can help the Awareness Flight visit
http://menieresflight.netfirms.com Menieres Flight
or call
336-783-1146.

The e-mail address is MenieresFlight@aol.com   Corporate sponsorship for this flight will help the cause and the companies involved with the national attention that we intend to a raise. The author of the article is also the pilot of the flight and holds a Commercial/Instrument Helicopter rating. Due to the early stages of the disease he is limited to flight in an ultralight.

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Last update May 17, 2005
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