Vertigo (dizziness), tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and intermittent hearing loss are three of the more discernable indications of a condition known as “Meniere’s disease”. Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes problems with hearing and balance. While there is no identified cure for this condition, there are steps that you can take to lessen the impact it has on your life.
For many patients with Meniere’s disease, symptoms appear in clusters of episodes. An episode may begin with a feeling of fullness in the ear accompanied by tinnitus and a decrease in hearing. Vertigo is likely to come next, causing you to feel as though the room is spinning around you. 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. Individual symptoms can vary a great deal in both duration and severity from episode to episode. Vertigo can sometimes signify a more serious condition, so be sure to check in with your doctor if you find yourself experiencing this symptom.
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. 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. Rehabilitation and hearing aids can help manage vertigo and 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.
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.