What is the inflammation process and why is it so important to understand for Meniere's sufferers?
If you have been "diagnosed" with having Meniere's, then you may have heard the term "endolymphatic hydrops". Endolymphatic in this case refers to the area affected: endolymph is a fluid that can be found in the labyrinth of the inner ear.
The fluid is part of the body's lymphatic system. In study's done in 2001 it was concluded that the inner ear has a lymphatic drainage system connected to the lymph nodes close by but also seems likely to have its own connections. The problem with endolymphatic hydrops is that excess fluid build up is not being drained away sufficiently and consequently building up and flowing through the inner ear canals irregularly. This may result in the wrong signals being decoded by the balance and hearing nerve endings within the three semi circular canals in the inner ear.
The important thing for Meniere's patients to understand is why the fluid is not being drained away quickly enough, what is causing that and what you can do to prevent it happening.
Drugs and treatments for Meniere's are prescribed to try and stop the fluid build up by blocking or destroying natural biological processes and to try to counter the symptoms.
What you must understand is that the fluid causing the inflammation being sent to your inner ear is a very natural process by your body's immune system and your focus should be what action you can take every day to prevent the excess fluid retention in the tissues of the inner ear and in searching for the cause of the build up of that fluid.
In the complex labyrinth of your inner ear you have a drainage duct where any excess endolymph fluid is supposed to drain into. This is what happens under normal circumstance. In your ear, if you are suffering from Meniere's, the duct becomes full. When swelling occurs in this area the fluid overflows into the canals of your inner ear and fills the endolyphatic sac to such an extent that it also may swell and cause problems.
With slight swelling you will feel fullness in your ear, perhaps some tinnitus and some hearing loss as a result, then as the sac swells to extremes you experience vertigo, as the sac presses on your balance nerve.
It may not be that the endolymph itself is being over produced but the actual tissue in the inner ear organs that are being inflamed and narrowing the space in which the endolymph passes through. If the sac or duct is inflamed then there is less space for it to gather and flow over the senosrary nerves that control balance and hearing, hence the abnormal signals being sent to the brain and the resulting symptoms you feel. This is what you need to look at and where you can take action to prevent it.
The mainstay of medical practice focuses on controlling the resulting symptoms of this swelling (deafness, tinnitus, dizziness and vertigo) and once you have been diagnosed the actual underlying cause of the swelling is presumed to be unknown. Why? Because once you have been diagnosed, your case has usually been automatically filed in the "can't be solved" file. Meniere's is known as an idiopathic condition. Idiopathic means 'of no known origin'.
What they should be saying is the origin hasn't "yet" been determined in your particular case. Unfortunately, once Meniere's has been 'diagnosed' all searches for the cause of your 'idopathic' set of symptoms end and all the focus becomes on treating your symptoms. If you find the cause of your symptoms, by the very definition of 'idiopathic' you no longer have "Meniere's". Because no definitive single underlying cause has been found, Meniere's remains stuck in the dogmatic category of unsolvable.
What the real diagnosis would be then is, a set of symptoms known as "Meniere's" caused by this, this or this. For example, we know that these symptoms can be linked to (among many other things) autoimmune disorders, mercury in amalgam, or cervical spine misalignment. So a separate individual diagnosis could be made in each case with deeper understanding and more investigation into underlying causes. The conditions above for example could hypothetically be called, "Autoimmune induced Endolymphatic hydrops" or "Cervical Meniere's" or even "mercury toxicity inner ear inflammation". Instead we get a bunch of symptoms known to be a result of inflammation in the inner ear lumped together under one label: "Meniere's."
Inflammation happens because your immune system is sending an army of defenders to fight a toxic invader, an irritant or to deal with dead cells and debris as a result of a mechanical disturbance. Drugs stop or restrict your immune system's ability from getting these defenders to the battle field, so to speak. Surgery either destroys the organs they are trying to protect or diverts the endolymph fluid. Neither get to the cause of why these defenders are being sent in the first place.
Under normal circumstances your immune system will win the battle and the inflammation will reduce and new healthy cells will form again, the debris from the battle eaten up by super cells and antioxidants sent in to clean up free radicals that are flying around causing havoc in the cell environment. If the underlying cause is not addressed then the inflammation will persist and in turn, unless supported and constantly supplied with the nutrients needed to function efficiently, exhaust your immune system.
For the sufferer, like you this should simply be unacceptable. A condition that can destroy the lives of, not only sufferers, but their families also, should be investigated until the known causes are identified in each individual.
The problem is cultural and endemic. The medical community, for the most part, is trained to identify "symptoms" and then "treat" those symptoms. Surgically removing a cancer tumor is really treating a resulting effect. It is not looking for the actual cause of that cancer tumor.
An analogy used elsewhere on this site is: it is like a fire fighter tackling a fire from a gas main by only spraying foam or water on the flames and burning material and not turning the gas main off. Firefighters are smarter than that. They know the fire will continue until the source of the fire is dealt with.
The other important aspect of this cultural problem is the general public believes perceived authority to be the absolute truth rather than the truth as being the absolute authority. We are programmed to respect a white coat, uniform or diploma as being the authority and therefore completely right.
A closer analogy might be: Somebody has a terrible headache, is clearly dehydrated, exhausted and listening to load pulsating music, and is simply given an aspirin. Having them turn the music off, drink water and get some sleep could usually be considered as dealing with the cause.
In the medical field, doctors that practice 'alternative' medicine, look at causes or preach the benefits of cellular nutrition are too often demonized, ridiculed or ignored, no matter how much proof they produce and how many patients they cure.
Unfortunately, publicized clinical trials, tests, studies and research will get very little backing, support or publicity from authorities and mainstream media dominated and controlled by big pharmaceutical corporations that focus on drugs that will be perpetually bought to 'treat' the symptoms of disease states. These corporations are profit driven businesses and cures are not in their financial interest.
If you gain the knowledge you need and change your perception to understand the inflammation your body is experiencing is a result of your immune system trying to help you, then you can assist your own body in finding and dealing with why your immune system is working overtime.
Meniere's Help founder, Mike Spencer has been researching and writing about the underlying reasons of what is causing your Meniere's symptoms and what you can do to correct it for over 7 years and has been collecting testimonials and evidence from sufferers for over 13 years. Find out more about this here.
Meniere’s is described by the medical community as a disorder of the inner ear. But that may not be where the origin of the cause is. The underlying cause may be in one of several other parts of the body that results in the symptoms showing up in the ear as the end result of a knock on effect. Or the inner ear may be a settling place for toxins being consumed, breathed or absorbed.
It is believed that a build up of fluid puts pressure on the hearing and balance nerves. The fluid gathers in the 'endolymphatic sac' at the end of the labyrinth that is the inner ear. The sac balloons, which results in the pressure on the nerves. You may hear this referred to as 'endolymphatic hydrops'.
When your doctor talks about hydrops, he is simply telling you that you have swelling in your inner ear. The definition of hydrops is: “edema: swelling from excessive accumulation of watery fluid in cells, tissues, or serous cavities” We have such cavities within our ears.
So when you see or hear these terms, “endolymphatic hydrops” or “secondary endolymphatic hydrops” and feel in awe, afraid or confused by this medical jargon, please understand the simple explanation is: you have inflammation (or swelling) inside your inner ear. The question is, what is causing that swelling?
The inflammation process is a natural biological reaction from your body’s immune system to any disturbance in an area that needs help from the immune system. Under normal circumstances the immune system sends its agents to deal with pathogens disturbing whatever part of the body is being attacked or disturbed, there is some swelling (as in when you have a bruise for example), as a surge in oxidation takes place as a result of the frantic activity of your inner defenders and all the excess energy produced (like a fire spitting out sparks) then your body’s supply of antoxidants cleans up the mess and gets that part of the body back to normal as your new cells are regenerated healthily.
In medicine, there is a term called ‘silent inflammation’. This is when the inflammation process goes on for over-extended periods of time without being detected. The body’s supply of antioxidants cannot keep up with the demand and it starts getting messy in there. This is how degenerative diseases and conditions occur. Your body is losing the inner battle and the inflammation becomes chronic.
Studies have shown that systematic inflammation is involved in at least 22 serious health conditions, from heart attacks to arthritis, diabetes to Parkinson’s disease.
What we need to look at is A. What is the source of this resulting inflammation and B. How can we make sure the body can keep up with the demand for antioxidants needed.To educate yourself on how to deal with this click here.
In terms of B. This would explain why using high quality supplementation, which provides potent antioxidants helps the Meniere’s sufferer keep the symptoms at bay. In most cases, it may not address the underlying cause but it does deal with the resulting cause of the symptoms. It reduces or stops the inflammation occurring. It strengthens your immune system and makes it more efficient.
The inflammation process is certainly one of the main “contributors” to any reactions that go on in your body. It is automatic and swift. It is involuntary. You have no warning it will happen, but its intention is to protect you. As you read on, please start to think how you can now start using this knowledge to understand your own situation(s).
The inflammatory process and its physical action on your body is vitally important. From the slightest seemingly harmless bump on your arm to major disease states, such as Meniere's Disease, the inflammatory process is at work to keep you as healthy as possible or to restore your health as best as it can, depending on its own health.
General perception is to try to be more sophisticated and to avoid the simple things and the belief that drugs and chemicals are the answer. But is it? We go to the pharmacy and buy all the latest technologies, drugs, and gadgets. We have abandoned some of the simpler solutions. This may not be ultra- sophisticated, but you will see in the “sinus cleaning” example, how a simple idea works wonders!
Mosby’s and the Medline Encyclopedia offer these explanations about the inflammatory process, inflammation, and infection: "The inflammatory process is the protective response of the body’s tissues to irritation or injury: may be acute or chronic. The severity, timing, and local characteristics of any particular inflammatory response depend on the cause, the area affected and the condition of the host.. Histamine and various other substances 'mediate' the inflammatory process…example: inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis." From this we can understand that histamine is actually an important element of the inflammatory process, and yet antihistamines are the most common prescribed drugs to tackle symptoms.
“Inflammation” is a process that brings blood and white cells to the injured or irritated area. It is characterized by heat, swelling, redness, and pain. It is the tissue reaction to the injury, direct or indirect. “Infection” is the invasion and multiplication of any organism and the damage caused by this in the body.
“Inflammatory response” is tissue reaction to injury and or an antigen. The response may include pain, swelling, itching, redness, heat, loss of function, or a combination of symptoms. There may be a dilation of the blood vessels leakage of fluid to the vessels, causing edema (swelling).
An important point to remember is that just as the fluid and other elements are activated, so they subside once their job is done. Also all functions resume their normal activities. The crisis is over and your body's biological balance is normal once again. However, there are times when this process will not subside but carry on for long periods of time. This leads to oxidative stress. This is a condition that resembles your body rusting out in certain areas. There is a lot of research underway related to this concept. ( see silent inflammation above)
Inflammation is a basic, vital, automatic function of your body.
In the following examples, you can see when the “result” is “internal” or “external”. Being “internal” or “external” reflects on how the resulting fluid or swelling (edema) spreads out. But the idea is that either way, the fluid HAS to go somewhere. If it spreads internally, it may press down on internal structures causing effects such as in endolymphatic hydrops.
In all these cases, your body “creates” this fluid to wash out the unwanted toxins or irritants. The actions are the same as are the results: in each case, fluid is created and can be accommodated. There are some unusual cases where there is a great amount of fluid production. Your body then has to extend itself by stretching the skin or it puts pressure on soft tissue in that internal environment
The inner ear is one place where there is very little room for fluid expansion. So anything in the way of extra fluid creation, has to find room to spread out, but where? Obviously, it will have to press down on the soft tissue in that area. Bone can not be compressed. The soft tissue in the area of our interest includes the balance (vestibular) nerve and the hearing (acoustic) nerve. So if there is an unusual amount of pressure, it follows that signals to and from the nerve(s) would or could be distorted and incorrect.
The resulting symptoms would naturally have to do with balance: vertigo or dizziness, hearing: fluctuations and noises (tinnitus) and these are all symptoms of Meniere's Disease. That is what these nerves are related to. Does it not also then follow if the resulting pressure is relieved in some way, the symptoms would disappear?
If all is well, and your body is healthy, this swelling will subside, with few long-term affects. Remember that no part of your body is exempt from this process. As already stated, this is automatic and consistent. It happens from your brain to your little toe, and anywhere in between.
However there are drugs that can influence the inflammatory process to not work as effectively as nature has intended it to do. These chemicals (drugs) are used when you want to get rid of the natural results from the exposure of the irritant: from the inflammatory process’ natural healing function. For instance, with Meniere’s Disease, an “accepted treatment” is to try and reduce the pressure in the ear, by inserting tubes to act as conduits.
But from what you have already read here, you know that this produces its own irritation and most likely will result in more inflammatory process at work. Often drugs are instilled to reduce this (natural) pressure, and may be creating more irritation. Also drugs such as very strong antibiotics are injected to reduce the effectiveness of the natural process of inflammation. That term is called ototoxic. And it means something is 'supposed' to be harmful to the ear.
There are things you can do immediately to reduce your inflammation, while you can educate yourself on the broader subject of underlying causes of endolymphatic inflammation and take appropriate action. Learn more about that here.
Immediate action you can take, is to look at what is in your diet that may cause inflammation and what you can eat to fight it. Take a look at your home environment and the personal hygiene products you use. Do they contain toxic chemicals that may cause your body to react? Are you eating foods that cause inflammation? Do they contain toxic chemicals from pesticides, herbicides or preservatives, genetically engineered bacteria, sugars or chemical sugar substitutes such as aspartame?
10 potentially toxic Chemicals you might want to eliminate from your home environment:
1. Phthalates 2. BPA 3. Chlorine 4. Radon 5. PFCs 6. Lead7. Chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers
8. Formaldehyde 9. Parabens 10. PBDs & PBBs
Fruits & Vegetables that help eliminate inflammation:
Turmeric, Hemp seeds, Tart cherries, Broccoli, Pineapple, Spinach, Avocado, Onions & Garlic, Nuts & Seeds, Berries. ( Organic foods will be free of toxic pesticides and fertilizer residues)
Foods that can CAUSE inflammation:
Margarine, Refined sugar, Fast foods, Gluten (if there is an intolerance of the modern form of gluten), Meat, eggs & dairy.
As one example of how we might be totally unaware that we are making our own inflammation and Meniere's symptoms worse, consider this: Something we come across regularly in correspondence with sufferers is Sinus problems causing Meniere's symptoms. Take a few moments to think through what most of us do routinely, when we suspect we find ourselves in these situations.
Something (decaying plants, noxious fumes, or tree pollen, etc.) comes into your head and respiratory system through our noses and mouth, then sets off the inflammatory process in one or more of these filtering “sponges” known as your sinus tissue. It is the tissue’s responsibility to filter out this intruder (cause).
This inflammatory process now increases its fluid production (result). Other healing or cleaning ingredients available from the body are also activated. Eventually this results in a dripping action. (Successful filtration.) And that is the body’s way to get the debris out of your body.
What is our usual response? We don't like the results of drippy nose, itchy eyes, sinus pressure etc but our sinuses have done a good job of filtering and now the fluid containing all this debris has to go somewhere.
The average response is to take drugs such as decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal sprays. Do you see what we are doing? We are stopping the body’s natural reactions to get this unwanted stuff out of our body.
So once we've been to the pharmacy or doctor and chosen one of the multitude of biologically foreign chemicals and used it, the intruder still sits in there, and your inflammatory process is in limbo, causing havoc. Your body has no way to prevent the immediate intrusion. Is this really what you wanted to achieve?
Do you think a shrunken, dried sinus sponge (which is an integral part of our immune system) can help you at all now? A healthy sponge or sinus tissue is moist and capable of “cleaning” or in this case, filtering. Look at a sponge at home. You always have to moisten it to make is work. Otherwise it is dry and scratchy, and you don’t get anything done.
When reading this, please understand that sinus problems have been linked to being a very real trigger in Meniere's sufferers. Putting chemicals into your sinus cavity is both putting those alien chemicals very close to your inner ear and forcing your body to retain the very irritants it is trying to expel, in addition to retaining the excess fluid produced from draining "out" of your body.
Do you use chemical nasal sprays or a device called a “Netie Pot”. If so, think this through clearly. Your goal is to get rid of the irritant that is plugging your nose and or sinuses. Why would you then want to put a solution into the area that contains salt? Salt in anything draws fluid TO itself.
Sprays are a perfect example of a "treatment" that causes internal fluid retention when what you really want is your sinuses open and working efficiently to drain all that unwanted trash out. A healthier option would be to wear a dust mask to limit the actual cause of your allergic reaction and to steam your sinuses regularly during this time.
If you have a salt solution outside your body and dipped your toe into it, it would draw off excess fluid. In that case it is job done but internally, is it really what your body needs, to draw fluid to it and to accumulate that fluid?
In this example of the inflammatory process the causes are the irritants, the results are the drippy nose etc What happens when we stop this natural process? The toxins or irritants stay put in a dried out filter and while our dripping nose may have stopped, the internal effects can not be seen but may be felt at a later date.
We now have this source of irritation in our body (all the debris) and now we take drugs to relieve the pressure, to allow ourselves to breathe. Or even take antibiotics to alleviate the possible resulting infection. We are now adding even more irritants in the form of chemicals.
One of the major components of this inflammatory process or to be more precise "healing process" is, as mentioned above, often an element called histamines. Simply put, these are necessary body responders to help with the workload of special intruders. It is their job to render these intruders less harmful.
So what do we do? We take antihistamine? A drug to stop the action of histamine, the natural responder, to deaden or reduce the effectiveness of this natural reaction. Or worse still, we are prescribed steroids. They are prescribed to weaken your body’s natural and immediate healing process, so we don’t feel 'symptoms' as much and to reduce swelling, which is of course a result of the inflammatory process or healing process at work!
Now our bodies are now having to deal with the chemicals from the drugs, the debris of the nonfunctioning filter, (sinus) plus the possible systemic side effects of the antihistamines and the steroids.
So what happens to the intruders that should have been filtered out by the dried up sinuses and are now allowed to run in your body? They go wherever they can find a place to settle . And once again, they irritate that area and the inflammatory process is activated once again.
We have to asked ourselves where this fluid goes once it has done its job, but now contains all the toxins? Once they are cleaned out of the inflamed area? That’s where our lymphatic system (this is considered one of the body’s cleaning systems) and your circulatory (blood) system come into play.
Both remove as many toxins as they can and your body returns to normal. If you suspect that your immune system is a little overloaded or not completely capable of keeping you healthy, What can you do about it knowing what you now know?
Remember that every chemical going into your body creates a change or reaction So it follows that multiple chemicals will create multiple changes, multiple reactions.
Whenever the body detects something in it that it finds not normal: i.e. the way the body is meant to be, your body's circulatory system brings extra fluid to the area to flush out the free radicals, toxins, etc. This process is what the inflammatory process is and why it is so important.
When we are healthy, the body has lots of natural fighters known as "anti-oxidants" which it gets from food and water and a good, clean environment or produces from moderate exercise and rest, etc.
How your immune system performs depends on the type of unwelcome intruders into the system, (bacteria, virus, foreign body, etc.) but more likely it will depend upon the number of unwelcome intruders.
Your immune defense system is an army that likes to do combat "one on one". The intruders in the body are called "free radicals". The job of the inflammatory system is to render these free radicals harmless by neutralizing them and eating them up.
Your immune system pairs or neutralizes them with an anti-oxidant. If your body's antioxidant supply is not sufficient to deal with the free radicals then 'silent inflammation' occurs and disease states develop.
Is your body receiving enough nutrients to keep your immune system strong and tackle the onslaught of toxins from food and your environment?
In the book "Managing Meniere's Disease - How to Live Symptom Free" the FDA list of known toxic residues found in the most popular fast food product spans three pages! Many of these toxins are known to cause symptoms such as dizziness and tinnitus. Our lives are saturated with similarly health damaging toxins entering our bodies through what we eat, drink, breathe and absorb through our skin.
Knowing what you now know, you will understand it is essential you supply your immune system with enough clean water, air and nutrients for it to cope and surely the best solution is to find the underlying cause of your inflammation and deal with it appropriately.
Read: Managing Meniere's Disease -How to Live Symptom Free and The Need for Balance - Dealing with the Cause of Meniere's
Contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org o
Write to us at: Meniere's Help, 37, The Crapen, Dursley, Glos, GL116LL, UK
Supporting Sufferers Since 2004