I have recently written to the Director who governs the curriculum which General Practitioners are taught in training, to request that GP’s cover more in depth knowledge of the inner ear. Please read my letter below:
Dear Curriculum Development Fellow,
I am writing in relation to a debilitating inner ear virus called ‘Labyrinthitis’. It is estimated that in Ireland alone 1 in 10 people have been diagnosed by General Practitioners with Labyrinthitis. Of those 1 in 10 sufferers, 30% will suffer with chronic inner ear dysfunction, due to damage of the Labyrinth or Vestibular nerve, as a direct result of the virus. Typically Labyrinthitis clears up as quickly as it starts within 2-6 weeks. However for chronic sufferers there is no end point without correct treatment. This is where General Practitioners fail these individuals. The nature of the illness means that symptoms include chronic fatigue, anxiety, trouble concentrating, slight memory loss and many sufferers report experiencing depression. Due to General Practitioners’ lack of knowledge regarding these chronic symptoms, sufferers can be given an incorrect diagnosis, no diagnosis at all or be prescribed medication which they do not need, all of which prolong recovery and waste valuable resources. To correctly diagnose this illness; without basing a diagnosis on subjective description of symptoms, sufferers must attend an Audiologist to directly assess the damage to the inner ear through a range of balance and caloric tests. To recover from this illness individuals need to attend Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy with a trained Physiotherapist.
Unfortunately for thousands or sufferers in Ireland; and millions worldwide, this information is not taught to GP’s’, therefore they have no knowledge of the chronic nature of Labyrinthitis. People are suffering unnecessarily for prolonged periods of time, sometimes years or decades, for absolutely no reason. The professional help is available but because GP’s are usually the first port of call in western countries, and they are not equipped with the knowledge of where they need to direct sufferers, this illness is left untreated or incorrectly treated.
I am requesting that you review how inner ear illness is taught to General Practitioners as a matter of urgency.
I appreciate you taking the time to read my letter and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Marian Groome (BSC Psych (Hons), PTA)