Kristin Chenoweth Hospitalized After Set Injury. Did Meniere’s Disease Play a Role?

Actress Kristin Chenoweth was injured yesterday on the set of The Good Wife.

The petite actress, known for her Broadway role of Glinda in Wicked as well as TV appearances on Pushing Daisies and Glee, was hit by lighting equipment which fell after a large gust of wind.

According to TMZ, Chenoweth was hit “square in the head” and appeared to be “knocked out cold.”  She was taken by ambulance to Bellevue Hospital. The extent of her injuries are at this time unknown, although they have been reported as “minor.”

Chenoweth is no stranger is on-set injuries. In 2003, she injured her neck falling off the stage at a rehearsal of Wicked. Three years later, she fell off a raised section of the stage during the Broadway revival The Apple Tree

And last year, Kristin tumbled down a set of stairs, injuring her back on the set on Glee.

Five years ago, Chenoweth was diagnosed with a condition called Ménière’s Disease, an inner ear disorder that can cause episodes of dizziness and problems with balance.

She recently spoke to Joy Behar about the problem:

Ten Things to Know About Ménière’s Disease

1.  Ménière’s disease is 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. Ménière’s disease usually affects only one ear.

2.  Attacks of dizziness may come on suddenly or after a short period of tinnitus or muffled hearing.

3.  Some people with Ménière’s disease have vertigo so extreme that they lose their balance and fall. These episodes are called “drop attacks.” Vertigo is having a sensation of movement even when you are standing still.

4.  Ménière’s disease can develop at any age, but it is more likely to happen to adults between 40 and 60 years of age.

5.   Approximately 615,000 individuals in the United States are currently diagnosed with Ménière’s disease and that 45,500 cases are newly diagnosed each year.

6.  The symptoms of Ménière’s disease are caused by the buildup of fluid in the compartments of the inner ear, called the labyrinth.

The labyrinth contains the organs of balance (the semicircular canals and otolithic organs) and of hearing (the cochlea).

It has two sections: the bony labyrinth and the membranous labyrinth. The membranous labyrinth is filled with a fluid called endolymph that, in the balance organs, stimulates receptors as the body moves.

The receptors then send signals to the brain about the body’s position and movement. In the cochlea, fluid is compressed in response to sound vibrations, which stimulates sensory cells that send signals to the brain.

7.  Many theories exist about what happens to cause Ménière’s disease, but no definite answers are available.

Some researchers think that Ménière’s disease is the result of constrictions in blood vessels similar to those that cause migraine headaches.

Others think Ménière’s disease could be a consequence of viral infections, allergies, or autoimmune reactions.

Because Ménière’s disease appears to run in families, it could also be the result of genetic variations that cause abnormalities in the volume or regulation of endolymph fluid.

8.  Ménière’s disease does not have a cure yet, but several treatments can help sufferers cope with the disorder. These include:

 Medications. The most disabling symptom of an attack of Ménière’s disease is dizziness. Prescription drugs such as meclizine, diazepam, glycopyrrolate, and lorazepam can help relieve dizziness and shorten the attack.

Salt restriction and diuretics. Limiting dietary salt and taking diuretics (water pills) help some people control dizziness by reducing the amount of fluid the body retains, which may help lower fluid volume and pressure in the inner ear.

Other dietary and behavioral changes. Some people claim that caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol make their symptoms worse and either avoid or limit them in their diet. Not smoking also may help lessen the symptoms.

9.  Six out of 10 people either get better on their own or can control their vertigo with diet, drugs, or devices. However, a small group of people with Ménière’s disease will get relief only by undergoing surgery.

10. You can get more information about Ménière’s disease by clicking here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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