Meniere’s disease is a problem with the fluid balance regulating system in the inner ear. The exact cause of the disease remains unknown. It is defined as the symptom complex of; episodic vertigo (vertigo being the sensation of spinning or whirling), tinnitus (hissing, ringing or roaring usually in one ear), fluctuating hearing loss (usually in the ear with tinnitus) and aural pressure (feeling of fullness or pressure in the involved ear. Following a severe attack, most people find that they are exhausted and must sleep for several hours. Some people experience brief “shocks”, and others have constant unsteadiness. These are attributed to sudden mechanical deformation of the otolith organs (utricle and saccule), causing a sudden activation of vestibular reflexes. This is a very disabling symptom as it occurs without warning and can result in severe injury.
Ménière’s disease is most common between the ages of 20 and 60, and affects men and women equally. The condition mostly affects Caucasians and can run in families. It’s not possible to prevent the disease.
Causes of Meniere’s Disease
The exact cause of Ménière’s disease is not known, but it is believed to be related to endolymphatic hydrops or excess fluid in the inner ear. It is thought that endolymphatic fluid bursts from its normal channels in the ear and flows into other areas causing damage. This may be related to swelling of the endolymphatic sac or other issues in the vestibular system of the inner ear, which is responsible for the body’s sense of balance. The symptoms may occur in the presence of a middle ear infection, head trauma or an upper respiratory tract infection, or by using aspirin, smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol.
Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
The symptoms of Meniere’s disease include dizziness, a feeling of fullness in the ear and tinnitus (a roaring sound in the ear). The dizziness is described as a spinning or whirling feeling and may cause problems with balance (feeling unstable while walking). Some people feel nauseated and vomit during an attack (because of the spinning feeling). Some people also notice some hearing loss, especially with sounds that have a low tone.
AlternativeTreatment of Meniere’s Disease
# Distribute your food and fluid intake evenly throughout the day and from day to day. Eat approximately the same amount of food at each meal and do not skip meals. If you eat snacks, have them at regular times.
# Stopping smoking if you are a smoker.
# Food triggers. There seems to be a link between migraine and Meniere’s disease in some people. Food triggers are known to cause migraine attacks in some people. A similar trigger may contribute to some attacks of Meniere’s disease. For example, cutting out caffeine (found in tea, coffee, cola, and chocolate) and alcohol may be worth trying.
# Get plenty of sleep
# Remain physically active
# Avoid eating foods or fluids which have a high salt content. High salt intake results in fluctuations in the inner ear fluid pressure and may increase your symptoms. Aim for a diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and low in canned, frozen or processed foods. A 2-gram sodium intake diet is usually what we recommend.
#Join a support group offers understanding and information to help you live with and manage your condition. Your doctor can recommend a support group in your area.