So, what is Meniere’s Disease?
According to the Merck Manual, it is “a disorder characterized by recurring attacks of disabling vertigo (a whirling sensation), hearing loss and tinnitus.”
It is characterized by a fluctuation of hearing loss and depending on the intensity of the condition, the hearing loss can even get to a permanent stage.
According to Wikipedia, it is named after a French physicist by the name of Prosper Meniere. It was stated in an article that he published in 1861, that disorders within the inner ear is responsible for causing vertigo.
Facts about Menieres Disease
- About 600 000 people within the US are affected by Menieres disease
- This disease may come about without any warning.
- 60-80% of people recover with or without medical help.
- About 45000 new cases are reported each year.
So what actually happens in Meniere’s disease?
This disease is thought to be caused by imbalances in the fluid that is present within the inner ear. There is always a certain amount of fluid within the ear. This fluid is constantly been secreted and reabsorbed to maintain a certain amount.
What happens in Meniere’s disease, can be as a result of two possibilities.
1.Either there is an increase in the production of fluid within the inner ear, or secondly
2.There is a decrease in the re-absorption of fluid from the inner ear.
The exact reason as to why this equilibrium is disturbed is not known, but needless to say there is an imbalance.It is this swelling of the tissues within the inner ear that causes the person to loose balance and feel disorientated.
Other potential causes of Menieres Disease
- Herpes Virus, the harmful effects of this virus can cause Meniere’s disease.
- Auto-Immune Disorders
- Constriction of blood vessels.
Common symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
There is no definite test or any one symptom that doctors can rely upon to diagnose Meniere’s Disease. These are the most common symptoms that they look for,
- Vertigo-more than two episodes lasting about 20minutes
- Tinnitus- The tinnitus may be constant or intermittent, and may be worse before, during or after an attack of vertigo.
- Hearing Loss in one ear
- A feeling of fullness in the ear.
What are some of the common diagnostic tools that an E.N.T uses?
Some of the tests that they may ask to be done include the following
- Hearing Test : An audiology exam, can pick up the extent of hearing loss,
- MRI(Magnetic Resonance Imaging) : An x-ray of the brain might show other abnormalities that may have caused Meniere’s Disease.
- Blood Tests: such as Auto-immune or Herpes Virus tests.
What are the treatment options for Meniere’s Disease(MD)?
So , by now we all know what is Meniere’s Disease. The question now is what do we do about? How can we treat it?
There is no cure as yet to treat MD, but there certainly are treatment options available to help one deal with the condition in their lives.
- Limiting Salt Intake : Too much salt ingested has the nasty side effect of increasing fluid build-up. This in turn aggravates the pressure within the inner ear, and may cause the person to experience dizziness and in some cases nausea. Please refer to my previous posts entitled, “The TOP 10 Salty Foods to avoid in Tinnitus,” whereby I talk about how salt actually increases the fluid levels as well as the most common foods with high salt content.
- Diuretics or Water Tablets: Diuretics have the task of working on the kidney to get rid of excess fluid in the body which decrease the pressure in the ear. Examples include, Aldactone( Spironolactone).
- Medications : Medications such as SERC(Betahistine), work by improving blood flow to the inner ear.Their overall purpose is for the symptomatic treatment of vertigo associated with MD. A word of caution with the use of this drug in people with asthma and peptic ulcers. There are other drugs such as meclizine, lorazepam or scopolamine that help with the vertigo as well. If the nausea and vomiting is severe than suppositories such as Stemetil(Prochlorperazine), can help.
- Reducing fluid pressure in the Ear: If drug therapy proves ineffective, then a procedure called Endolymphatic Shunt procedure,can help to reduce the fluid pressure. This procedure utilizes a thin sheet of plastic material that is inserted into the inner ear and prevents the pressure build up.
- Injections:This involves the injection of a solution of an antibiotic called Gentamicin through the eardrum into the middle ear. The purpose of this injection is to destroy the inner ear balance thereby reducing the vertigo.However this procedure can cause hearing loss and long term imbalances. Doctors rather prefer going with an alternative of using corticosteroid injection which does not affect the hearing loss.
- Surgery : An option when all else fails. One example of surgery is cutting of the vestibular nerve permanently thereby destroying the inner ear balance yet maintaining the hearing.
Meniere’s Disease and ME
As I mentioned before, tinnitus is a symptom rather than a condition or a disease. In my quest to uncover how my tinnitus had come about I was lead to an E.N.T, who is of the opinion that I am one of those people, suffering from Menieres disease.
I have experienced the ‘vertigo’ and ‘feeling like the whole world around me is spinning’, twice. These incidents were followed by episodes of vomiting, after which, the next day, I felt great! Even the tinnitus had seemed to lessen remarkably and my hearing was amazing.
As we speak, the tinnitus is still the major symptom that is affecting me. This follows closely behind with a feeling of fullness in the ear and some hearing loss. But no vertigo at all.My audiologist has done regular hearing test on me and confirms a mild hearing loss.There is fluctuation in my hearing and somedays the tinnitus is at its lowest This is reason enough for her to deduce that it is a high possibility that I could be suffering from MD.
Another E.N.T however, is of the opinion that I actually am suffering from a viral infecton, and not Meniere’s Disease and that I should take anti-viral medication.
This was all too confusing for me, who do I listen to?
The bottom line here is that I have the tinnitus and it is bothering me and I want to do something about it. Just to let you know, that I am going with the opinion of the first doctor and see what transpires after a period of 6months.
As I mentioned in another one of my posts, titled ‘Is Ginkgo Biloba good for Tinnitus?‘ that I am on other medication.And the medication that I was talking about is the diuretic and Serc. I want to see the results of these medications after 6months before trying anything else, which includes the Ginkgo which is something I really would like to try out.
Thanks for sticking with me throughout this article.I hope that it has enlightened you in some way.You have learnt now, what is Meniere’s Disease and understand its relation to tinnitus.
When it comes to tinnitus, its always about trying to find out what triggers it off and how it initially started. This then gives you a sense of direction to follow to treat it and make it more manageable on a daily basis.
So, if we take my case as an example. If my tinnitus is as a result of Meniere’s Disease, then taking the medication indicated should provide some relief.Only time will tell.
⇒Whilst we are chatting about Meniere’s Disease and its relationship to hearing loss why not read about my article where I discuss ,’ Hearing Loss and Tinnitus, a connection?’⇐
Is there something on your mind regarding tinnitus, Meniere’s Disease or hearing loss?
Give me a shout and let’s get talking.
All the best to you.
Looking forward to seeing you again.
I enjoyed reading your article on what menieres disease is and what causes it. You have giving quite a bit of facts about this in quite detail even siting some references for it. Which got me to wondering does the disease affect certain age and gender? Look forward to hearing more from you on this subject in reference to this question and forward to what you are finding after the six months end.
Thank you for your question.
Meniere’s Disease is more common in the adult years and tends to affect women more than men. Guess I am the lucky one.lol
I will certainly update my findings on the medication that I am taking after the 6months had gone by.
My wife suffers from vertigo at times and from what she describes its like the spinning feeling you get after having way too much to drink… yuck!
I like this article I think you have put a lot of research into Menieres disease and what it means for people. Its good to see such a large recovery rate as well. Thanks for posting
Sorry to hear that your wife suffers from vertigo. Even though I had it only twice, I can tell you that it can be rather nasty and drains energy out from you.
Has she tried any anti-nausea or vertigo medications? Things like Stugeron, or Valoid. If it’s really bad, I recommend to try Valoid or Stemitil Suppositories.
Glad you enjoyed this article.
All the best to you.
Very sorry to hear that you are fighting an uncomfortable condition. I found it quite interesting that you had 2 different Drs tell you 2 completely different treatment therapies. Have you decided which Dr. And treatment to go with? I’m very interested to hear if you get relief. Are the current medications helping?
Thank you for your kind words.
I am trying out the recommendation of the first doctor and then after 6months had surpassed, I would evaluate the situation and then take it from there.
I think the medications are helping to a certain extent. I incorporate my yoga, Tai Chi and keep a check on the foods I eat as well in order to keep things under control.
Hope to see you soon.
Sad to hear that menieres disease can cause hearing loss. But I am glad to see you’ve listed some great preventative ways to help stop this before it occurs. I think one of the best ways to prevent any disease is to treat it as soon as possible. Great to see you’ve listed some diagnostic tools as well to help anyone who may be at risk for menieres. I really hope you find a way to cure tinnitus and hope you end up making a full recovery. I think by writing about this and helping inform others should help you make better progress overtime.
Thank you for your comment.
I like to help people wherever I can and by providing them more information about Meniere’s Disease, I am hoping that they feel more confident knowing that something can be done.
At this point, I have cometo terms that tinnitus is something that I got to live with.Where I can make a difference is to control the intensity of it.
And that is what this site is all about.To be able to face it and manage it, and not to feel that there is no hope.That is simply not the truth.I want all tinnitus sufferers to know that.
Thanks for stopping by, please visit again.
All the best.
I once had a tinnitus after I experience a very bad colds. When the ENT tried to check up on me, I probably had Eustachian tube dysfunction. I tried many medications and nothing works at all. Having those sounds for straight 2 months really drives me mad, I cannot even sleep. Usually when I experience this, I usually put some kind of white background sounds in my room so I could sleep well.
Thanks for sharing.
I understand you completely.The tinnitus is certainly more bothersome at night time, with few noises around to act as maskers.
White noise does help me too.Just a suggestion, but to help you with your self, you can try takingnatural tranquillizers.
They have no addictive potential and are free from side effects.
If there is anything else that I can help with, give me a shout.
For 4 months I take betaserc and this drug tires me (feeling fainting and always dizziness and loss of balance …): I lowered the dosage to 24 mg (I am French). I have hydrops (parent of meniere). what to do ?
I am in pre menopause and I think it is related. Is spironolactone recommended? Thank you for your reply.
I am not a doctor, but a pharmacist. However, I really appreciate your words.Thank you.
Betaserc was actually supposed to help for your dizziness and vertigo.
I think perhaps you should ask your doctor if you could switch to another ‘drug,’ like Cinnarizine.It is much weaker, but it may help.
Let me know how it goes