Vertigo (dizziness), tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and sporadic hearing loss are three of the more recognizable signs of a condition known as “Meniere’s disease”. This condition strikes your inner ear, causing you to experience symptoms that disturb your balance and hearing. While there is no identified cure for this condition, there are actions that you can take to lessen the effect it has on your daily life.
Many people experience Meniere’s disease symptoms in episodes. An episode may begin with a feeling of fullness in the ear accompanied by tinnitus and a decrease in hearing. 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. You may feel nauseated and your balance may be impaired. An episode may last anywhere from twenty minutes to four hours.
It is common for Meniere’s disease episodes to appear in clusters, with individuals enjoying periods of ‘remission’ between groups of episodes. The frequency and severity of each symptom can vary from episode to episode. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with your doctor to rule out more serious conditions.
Medical researchers and clinicians are not certain what causes Meniere’s disease, but some experts believe that it may have to do with abnormal volume or composition of inner ear fluid. Your ear relies on very specific levels of fluid volume and pressure to function as it should. Allergies, head trauma, improper drainage, and viral infections may act as triggers for these fluid abnormalities.
Despite the fact that Meniere’s disease has no known cure, it’s symptoms can often be successfully managed. If you experience nausea during episodes of vertigo, your doctor may prescribe medications to help you feel more comfortable. 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. The effects of vertigo may also be lessened by sitting or lying down as soon as possible after an episode starts and by avoiding triggers that seem to make vertigo symptoms worse.
Meniere’s disease does carry some uncomfortable symptoms, but with the help of your doctor it does not need to significantly disrupt your life.