Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo (dizziness) and intermittent hearing loss are three of the more discernable indications of a condition known as “Meniere’s disease”. Meniere’s disease is a condition of the inner ear that causes problems with hearing and balance. Although medical science hasn’t yet found a cure for this condition, there are a number of steps you can take to decrease its symptoms and minimize its impact on your day-to-day life.
The symptoms of Meniere’s disease tend to occur 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. After these symptoms begin to appear, patients often begin to experience vertigo, a sort of dizziness that’s often described as feeling as though the room is spinning. This dizziness may also come with nausea, vomiting and balance problems. 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. Since these symptoms are not unique to Meniere’s disease, it’s very important to check with your physician to rule out other potentially serious health problems.
There is no clear cause of Meniere’s disease, but researchers theorize that abnormalities in the volume or composition of fluids in the inner ear may be to blame. Scientists have discovered that the amount and pressure of fluid in the inner ear is critical to your hearing and balance. There are a number of factors that could trigger abnormalities in this inner ear fluid, including head trauma, viral infections, improper drainage and allergies.
Despite the fact that Meniere’s disease has no known cure, it’s symptoms can often be successfully managed. 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. Hearing aids offer a proven solution for episodes of hearing loss, while rehabilitation has been shown to improve balance during episodes of vertigo. 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.
Although there are some unpleasant symptoms associated with Meniere’s disease, there are steps that you can take to manage your episodes and reduce the impact they have on your life.