The Celebrities: Tampa Bay Forward Mattias Ritola Finds His Own Cure for Meniere’s Disease

For years, Meniere’s Disease patients have been told there’s no known treatment for their disorder, leaving us to research and discover our own ways to keep symptoms at bay. For Tampa Bay hockey player Mattias Ritola, treatment for one of his Meniere’s Disease symptoms went only as far as his local drugstore.

The hockey player found the remedy while preparing for four games that would put him on the road for a week. Airplanes have been such a challenge for the hockey player, he was considering quitting the team, since flying is required to get to games in a timely manner. The problem, experienced by many Meniere’s Disease sufferers, was the pressure created by takeoffs and landings.

The key to the earplugs Ritola found was a hole that ran through each earplug from top to bottom. These earplugs help ease the pressure in Ritola’s ears, preventing attacks that affect his game.

Ritola, who has experienced deafness in his left ear since childhood, had planned to get an injection in his ears prior to flying to help ease symptoms. The hockey player is glad the treatment will no longer be necessary, thanks to his earplugs.

Last year, Ritola’s battle with Meniere’s Disease was publicly disclosed, but he had been battling debilitating symptoms since 2010. The athlete told the Tampa Bay Times he usually knows early in the day whether or not he’ll have symptoms that day, which let him know whether or not he’d be able to play in that day’s game. Doctors had him on medications at that time to help reduce symptoms, but they could only minimize the disease, not completely treat it.

Ritola has also found relief in chiropractic treatment. The chiropractor said that by treating tense muscles, he was able to relieve the pressure on spinal nerves that impacted Ritola’s inner-ear balance. But head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan pointed out that Meniere’s Disease can often have periods of dormancy, leading patients to believe they have found a cure. With ice hockey requiring balance, the ramifications of a disease like Meniere’s can be career-crushing. 

This is a case of someone not willing to let Meniere’s disease take over his life.  Admittedly, I am not a professional athlete and my income does not depend on physical performance.  But early on, when I was struggling with the symptoms of Meniere’s, I resigned to letting Meniere’s keep me home-bound.  The second time I had to battle the symptoms, I decided to not let it control my life.  I went out with the family whenever we had something planned and even went on a backpacking trip that I had been planning for several months but was not equipped with a fully functional equilibrium.

Ritola is another case of someone living a fully productive life by managing the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.

Please remember to fill out our Meniere’s disease survey if you have not already done so.  Next month, I will roll out the results of the survey.