Meniere's Disease

1 What is Meniere's Disease?

Meniere's disease is the disorder of the inner ear that can affect our balance and hearing and may cause vertigo (when you feel like the things around you are moving even if they are not), you may also have hearing loss and at the same time tinnitus (when you can hear a sound but there is none in your surroundings).

You may also feel pressure in your ear. It may affect the membranous labyrinth of the ear. It occurs between the ages of 20 and 50 but sometimes it can occur at any age.

Meniere's disease affects only one ear in most cases. Experts say it is a chronic condition but there are treatments and medications that will help remove the symptoms.

2 Symptoms

The symptoms and signs of Meniere's disease are vertigo, which makes you think that everything around you is moving even if it is not, like spinning objects which last up to 20 minutes up to a few hours but not the whole 24 hours.

Severe vertigo may cause vomiting and nausea; Tinnitus or the ringing in the ear, you can hear a sound even if there isn’t around you, the roaring and buzzing, hissing and whistling sound; Hearing loss, a lot of people may have permanent hearing loss but for some it will only come and go; another symptom is feeling of fullness in your ear or pressure in your ear.

This signs and symptoms may improve and can occur from weeks to years apart or might disappear entirely.

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3 Causes

There are no known causes of Meniere’s disease. There are only theories but not yet proven, one is the result of the abnormal amount of fluid which is the endolymph in the inner ear and it mostly seen on autopsies.

Improper fluid drainage, allergies, viral infections, genetic predisposition, head trauma, abnormal immune response, and migraines are the factors that affect the abnormal amount of fluid.

4 Making a Diagnosis

You might want to visit your ENT specialist or an audiologist and a neurologist that specializes in the nervous system to receive a diagnosis of Meniere's disease.

Your doctor may ask you questions such as:

  • For how long are you experiencing these said symptoms?
  • What are the signs and symptoms that you are experiencing?
  • What are the major stresses in your life?
  • Your doctor may ask your medical history. 

Make a list of all the vitamins, supplements, and medications that you are taking every day.

You should write these down beforehand so you will not forget things that you want to ask or relevant information that your doctor will ask you.

Bring your closest friend or a family member when seeing a doctor so that he can help you remember things and support you if it is a bad news.

You may ask questions such as:

  • What is the cause of this?
  • Are there any treatments or medications?
  • What laboratory tests do I need to do?
  • How can I manage this disease?
  • If there are lots of tests, ask what to do first and if you need all of it.

5 Treatment

There is no known cure for Meniere’s disease but there are treatments for this disease such as:

  • Medications for moderate to severe vertigo,
  • motion sickness medications such as diazepam (valium) and meclizine that may help with the ‘spinning of the room’ and reduces dizziness and vomiting,
  • hearing aid, 
  • meniette device,
  • an antibiotic which is gentamicin,
  • dexamethasone which is a steroid.

6 Prevention

There is no known prevention for Meniere's disease.

However, you can reduce the symptoms like vertigo by not eating salty foods and resting during and after the attacks.

7 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with Meniere's disease.

If you are feeling dizzy, sit down first or lie down, rest after attacks.

If you are having trouble walking, use a cane or ask someone to help you walk.

Do not drive first because you might have an accident and might injure yourself or someone.

If you have a pain your head does not watch television or read a book, rest your eyes. Avoid bright lights and no sudden movements.

Join a support group or talk to people who have the same condition, look up information from Vestibular Disorders Association.

Stress can affect your balance and hearing, limit your salt to reduce your vertigo attack, only 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams of salt each day.

8 Risks and Complications

The risk and complications of Meniere’s disease are permanent hearing loss and vertigo.

It can cause emotional stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, you can also lose balance.

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