Meniere ’s disease is an inner ear disorder that can cause brief episodes of dizziness, vertigo, & sometimes, hearing loss. Meniere’s disease affects only one ear in most cases. Although Meniere’s disease can present itself at any age, it is mostly seen in young adults & middle aged people. It’s by & large considered being a chronic condition, although various treatment options & medicines might help in providing relief from symptoms & helping improve the patient’s quality of life.
Meniere’s Disease signs & symptoms:
There are various signs & symptoms of Meniere’s Disease. A majority of these symptoms cease to present themselves after an episode. However, others might linger for some time until proper resolution. Some of these include:
- Frequent, recurring Vertigo episodes: Patients of Meniere’s Disease might experience a spinning sensation that starts & ends without warning. These episodes usually last for about 20 minutes to several hours at a time. Can sometimes cause the patient to feel nauseous when they are severe.
- Loss of hearing: Hearing loss is a rather unstable symptom of Meniere’s Disease, in that it often comes & goes, especially in the early phase of the disease. Most patients however, eventually face a permanent hearing loss.
- Ringing sensation in the ears (Tinnitus): Tinnitus is another common symptom of Meniere’s Disease, & involves a constant ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling, or roaring sound in one or both of the ears.
- Fullness or pressure in the ear: Meniere’s Disease patients also often feel a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear, a phenomenon that is call Aural Fullness.
These symptoms of Meniere’s Disease are especially severe in the beginning of the disorder. With time however, they may resolve on their own & sometimes might even disappear completely.
Meniere’s Disease Causes:
One of the most prominent causes of Meniere’s Disease is a fluid buildup in the inner ear, also called endolymph. However, the exact cause of this fluid buildup is unclear, & remains unknown to this day.
The few reasons that could cause this uncharacteristic fluid buildup to happen are:
- Faulty fluid drainage, arising out of a blockage in any of the nerves or an birth defect or abnormality in the anatomy of the inner ear,
- An abnormal or overly powerful immune response
- Any Viral infection
- A genetic condition that affects the structure and function of the inner ear
In the absence of any determining factors that can be singularly identifie as Meniere’s Disease causes. It’s been postulate that it arises out of a combination of the above-mentioned causes. Although in most cases there are no major complications arising out of Meniere’s Disease. In some cases it can lead to permanent hearing loss & frequent, unforeseen episodes of Vertigo.
These can seriously disrupt a patient’s life, especially if they are severe. Can lead to general fatigue, stress, & sometimes even accidents.
Meniere’s Disease diagnosis
The diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease requires your doctor to take a detailed medical history of your symptoms. The frequency with which they are experience, & a lot of other factors.
A proper diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease generally requires:
- Two recurring Vertigo episodes, lasting from 20 minutes to several hours(although not more than 12 hours),
- Hearing loss which is verified by a hearing test,
- A feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears, also called Tinnitus,
- Absence of any other reason that could explain any of these symptoms.
Meniere’s Disease diagnosis through Hearing Tests:
A doctor administered hearing test, also otherwise known as an Audiometry test. Determines how accurately a patient detects sounds at different pitches. The test also assesses how well a patient is able to distinguish similar sounding words & sounds from each other. Meniere’s Disease causes patients to have trouble hearing sounds at low & high frequencies & combined frequencies. While being able to well understand sounds in the mid range of frequencies.
Aside from hearing tests, your doctor might also conduct certain balance assessments on you, to determine. If Meniere’s sicknessis arising out of an issue in the central nervous system. These tests include Videonystagmography tests (VNG) that determine your body’s balance functions by measuring eye movements against head position stimuli. Aside from VNG tests, other tests like Rotary chair testing, Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials(VEMP) test. Posturography, Video Head Impulse Test(vHIT), & Electrocochleography(ECoG).
Aside from these, certain other tests might be prescribe by your doctor to rule out any other reasons for the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Once the diagnosis has ruled out any other condition & has zeroed in on Meniere’s Disease. Your doctor will begin a course of Meniere’s Disease treatment, that also includes Vertigo treatment.
This treatment procedure may include well-known Vertigo exercises, home remedies. As well as certain Vertigo medicines that help reduce the severity of any Vertigo attack. These Vertigo medicines might include Motion sickness medications like meclizine & diazepam(Valium). These help reduce the severity of the spinning sensation felt by patients during a Vertigo episode, & may also help relieve the patient of nausea & vomiting symptoms.
In addition to the above-mentioned Vertigo medicines, your Meniere’s sicknesstreatment might also include courses of anti-nausea medications like promethazine, that help control nausea and vomiting of a patient during Vertigo attacks. Additionally, your doctor might also prescribe you certain medications that help reduce your body’s water retention & fluid buildup, which are also called diuretic medicines. You will also be advise to reduce your salt intake, as excessive amounts of salt in the body leads to fluid retention.
Vestibular Therapies & hearing aids
Certain noninvasive therapies might also help in Meniere’s sicknesstreatment, & can also prove worthwhile in Vertigo treatment. These include:
- Vestibular Rehabilitation: For patients experiencing balance problems in between Vertigo episodes, Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapies might prove helpful in improving your balance. These therapies, that include Vertigo exercises & certain home remedies, help your body make up for the loss of vestibular balance system through specific postures & movements.
- Using Hearing Aids: Putting a hearing aid in the affected ear might help improve a patient’s hearing abilities, & help with the hearing loss that Meniere’s Disease patients often experience.
- Pressure therapy: In this therapy, the pressure is applie to the middle ear to reduce fluid buildup. The pressure is applied through a device called a Meniett Pulse Generator that applies pulses of pressure to the ear canal of the patient through a ventilation tube. This treatment can be easily done at home by the patient themselves, usually 3 times daily, with each session lasting for about 5 minutes.
Although positive pressure therapy has been shown to be helpful in Meniere’s Disease treatment, as well as Vertigo treatment, its effectiveness remains to be seen in large clinical trials.
Besides these known therapies help improve the conditions & the severity of Meniere’s sicknesssymptoms for some patients. Not a lot of treatment options are available for patients. Surgical procedures that involve surgically reducing the fluid buildup & pressure inside the affected ear, might be the only Meniere’s Disease treatment options for patients that show no signs of improvement with any other treatment option.
Doctors & researchers are always working on brand new, innovative treatment options for Meniere’s Disease treatment & Vertigo treatment that involve the least amount of invasive properties & help Meniere’s sickness patients feel better eventually.