Meniere's disease is a chronic inner ear condition that can greatly affect the lives of those who have it. Symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss can be distressing and disruptive to daily life. If you or a loved one is living with Meniere's disease, it is important to understand what the condition is and what can be done to manage it. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of Meniere's disease, including its definition, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and more. Our goal is to empower you with the information you need to take control of your life and find support in managing Meniere's disease. Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with Meniere's disease for some time, this article is a valuable resource for gaining a deeper understanding of what it is and what you can do to manage it.
Meniere's Disease Definition
Meniere's disease is defined as a chronic condition that affects the inner ear and causes vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness in the ear. It is a relatively uncommon condition, affecting approximately 615,000 people in the United States.
Meniere's Disease Causes
The exact cause of Meniere's disease is not known, but it is believed to be related to an excess of fluid (endolymph) in the inner ear. Some potential causes include genetics, head injury, viral infections, migraines, and autoimmune disorders.
Meniere's Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of Meniere's disease can vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms include vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness in the ear. Some individuals may also experience nausea, vomiting, and sweating during episodes of vertigo.
Meniere's Disease Diagnosis
Diagnosing Meniere's disease can be challenging, as the symptoms are similar to other conditions such as migraines, inner ear infections, and vestibular neuronitis. A thorough evaluation by an otolaryngologist, including a medical history, physical exam, hearing test, and imaging studies, can help to determine if a person has Meniere's disease.
Understanding Meniere's Disease
To fully understand Meniere's disease, it is important to recognize the underlying causes and symptoms, as well as the impact it can have on daily life. Seeking support from a healthcare professional, such as an otolaryngologist or audiologist, can help individuals with Meniere's disease to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Living and Coping with Meniere's Disease
Living and coping with Meniere's disease can be challenging, but there are steps that individuals can take to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. These may include avoiding triggers, taking medications, undergoing vestibular rehabilitation, and making lifestyle changes. In addition to these well known choices, this website is dedicated to bringing you information that helps you understand and cope with your symptoms so make sure you browse from the home page to find what you need.
Meniere's Disease Overview
In summary, Meniere's disease is a chronic inner ear condition that affects the fluid balance in the inner ear, causing vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness in the ear. It is a relatively uncommon condition that can be challenging to diagnose and manage. However, with a thorough understanding of Meniere's disease and support from healthcare professionals, individuals can take control of their lives and find relief from their symptoms.
Below is a general description of what Meniere's Disease really is and insight as to what it means for you the sufferer.
Firstly this condition is not really a disease in the same perception we have for more defined conditions such as cancer or heart disease. Rather it is a name given to a set of symptoms, the origin of which is unknown. This is what is known as an 'idiopathic' condition. A medical dictionary would define this as 'self originated' or of an 'unknown cause'.
Of course by very definition if you find the cause of your symptoms then it is no longer considered Meniere's. Therein lies the problem. We are told there is no cure for Meniere's because the origin is unknown; they don't know the cause.
Everything has a cause. Cause and effect is an undeniable law of nature. The very reason we don't know the cause is because once you find your cause it is no longer considered Meniere's.
So if you understand this, it is only considered Meniere's, when they haven't found the cause, but that does not mean there is no cause. And more importantly it doesn't mean you can not find your cause and deal with it. It is a matter of identifying that cause or causes in your individual case and dealing with it accordingly.
Click here to learn how to identify the causes of your Meniere's symptoms and what you can do about it.
Sufferers are of course anxious to get a real diagnosis and have explained what disease it is they have. In a sense, Meniere's is simply a label given to a set of symptoms your doctors don't know the root cause of: An idiopathic condition. There are many possibilities as to the root cause or causes that are triggering inflammation within the inner ear and the consequent build up of fluid.
It is only referred to it as Meniere's Disease or Meniere's Syndrome once they have ruled out other more sinister possibilities such as a tumor. Blood tests, CT scans, an MRI and audiologist tests. Amongst a few other things the blood test may include checking for auto-immune traces and evidence of the syphilis. The MRI and CT scans are to discount the presence of a tumor.
The name "Meniere's" comes from Prosper Meniere, the physician-in-chief at the Institute for deaf-mutes in Paris in the 1800's
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 root cause may be in one of several other parts of the body that show up in the ear as the end result of a knock on effect or domino effect.
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'.
We sometimes have people contacting Meniere's Help stating that they have been diagnosed or think they have "hydrops". You have to understand that hyrops is just another term for edema or in more simple language, inflammation or swelling.
So when your doctor talks about hydrops, he is simply telling you that you have swelling in your inner ear. Medical dictionaries define hydrops as: "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 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). Your body's supply of antoxidants then 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. At this point you begin to notice your symptoms.
Studies have shown that systemic inflammation is involved in at least 22 serious health conditions, including heart attacks, arthritis, diabetes and 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.
In terms of B. This would explain why high quality supplementation, which provides potent antioxidants helps the Meniere's sufferer keep the symptoms at bay. It may not address the underlying root cause in most cases 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 theories as to the cause of Meniere's and the focus of scientific investigation include possibilities such as noise pollution, viral infections, middle ear infections, head injuries, syphilis, bacterial infections, stress, fatigue, alcohol, smoking and allergies.
None of these have been clinically proven yet. Though there is strong evidence and proven statistics in some areas that at least some of these are either underlying causes or contributing triggers. One of the problems is that everyone is looking for a definitive answer as to what is the cause. One single cause, when clearly there are many candidates. What may be causing the symptoms in one person may be very different in the next.
The list of possible underlying root causes is much bigger than the above however. Learn more on root causes and how to deal with them here.
There are many other possible triggers that seem to have a common theme among sufferers.
What does all this mean for the actual sufferer?
Well, this condition is not fatal, nor is it contagious. It is a chronic condition however. It seems to affect everyone slightly differently and can range from troublesome at best to totally debilitating and terrifying at worst. Some people only experience one or two symptoms; others the whole lot.
If there is such a thing, classic symptoms of Meniere's disease include: fullness in the ear, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness, vertigo (shocking abnormal sense of movement, usually spinning uncontrollably) and hearing loss.
Most medical websites and the countless sites full of copied material quote the accepted triad of symptoms: dizziness, tinnitus and hearing loss.
That hardly paints the full picture though, as anyone who suffers with the full blown symptoms of Meniere's can testify.
Meniere's sufferers can experience brain fog, disorientation, confusion, inability to concentrate, sudden exhaustion, light sensitivity and noise sensitivity. It is a very lonely condition to have to live with and can lead to depression and a sense of hopelessness. Suicides are not unheard of, which is a crime when we now know how you can find your cause and deal with it, or at the very least control the symptoms with dietary manipulation, lifestyle changes and the use of supplementation.
A bout of vertigo can lead to severe exhaustion and the sufferer can be incapacitated for the rest of the day afterwards, sometimes longer. This makes holding down a job very difficult and people often find themselves having to give up work altogether. Some are even afraid to go out of the house alone for fear of what may happen. Even the lights and aisles of the supermarket may spark attacks. It can be a miserable existence.
Anybody can suffer from Meniere's, male or female, young children to old age pensioners. The general consensus is that the largest demographic of sufferers is middle aged people. One explanation for this might be that whatever is causing the silent inflammation has had a long time to build up and tire the immune system out.
Existing mainstay treatments vary from drugs like antihistamines, anticholinergics, sedatives, anti-emetic agents, diazapam or diuretics, to surgery like endolymphatic shunt implants, vestibular nerve sections and various steroid injections into the ear.
All of these are designed to try and relieve symptoms. They are not cures. They do not tackle the root cause.
Click here to read Managing Meniere's Disease
Click here to read The Need for Balance - Dealing with the Causes of Meniere's
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). (2021, October 21). Meniere's Disease.
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