Meniere's Disease: An Introduction
Three of the most recognizable indication of Meniere’s disease are tinnitus, vertigo, and fluctuating hearing loss. Meniere’s disease is an inner ear condition that may trigger disruptions in your hearing and balance.While there is no known cure for this disorder, there are steps that you can take to lessen the impact it has on your daily life.
For many patients with Meniere’s disease, symptoms appear in clusters of episodes. A common starting point of these episodes is a feeling of fullness in the ear that leads to tinnitus and mild hearing loss. Shortly after these symptoms begin, you may begin to suffer vertigo, a feeling of dizziness not unlike what you might experience after quickly spinning around several times. You may feel nauseated and your balance may be impaired. Episodes vary in length, sometimes ending as quickly as twenty minutes or lasting for hours.
It is common for Meniere’s disease episodes to appear in clusters, with individuals enjoying periods of ‘remission’ between groups of episodes. Symptoms vary from episode to episode in terms of intensity and duration. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with your doctor to rule out more serious conditions.
Researchers are still working to determine the cause of Meniere’s disease, but the leading theory is that its symptoms are caused by abnormalities in fluid in the inner ear. Scientists have discovered that the amount and pressure of fluid in the inner ear is critical to your hearing and balance. Allergies, head trauma, improper drainage, and viral infections may act as triggers for these fluid abnormalities.
While there is no known way to cure Meniere’s disease, you do have options when it comes to managing its symptoms. Anti-nausea medications can frequently help patients cope with their vertigo. Physicians may also prescribe drugs that reduce fluid retention as a way to control the disorder. Rehabilitation can help counteract the balance problems associated with vertigo, while hearing aids can help during episodes of hearing loss. Sitting or lying down immediately if you begin to notice vertigo can help you avoid falls, while avoiding triggers that make your symptoms worse (such as bright lights or reading) can help lessen the severity of the episode.
While the symptoms of Meniere’s disease can certainly pose challenges, the good news is that there are strategies for minimizing them so that patients suffering from this condition can live near-normal lives.