Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo (dizziness) and intermittent hearing loss are three of the most discernable signs of a condition known as “Meniere’s disease”. Meniere’s disease is an inner ear condition that can cause disruptions in your hearing and balance.Although medicine hasn’t yet found a cure for this disease, there are several things you can do to decrease its symptoms and lessen its impact on your day-to-day life.
Many people experience Meniere’s disease symptoms in episodes. A common starting point of these episodes is a feeling of fullness in the ear that leads to tinnitus and mild hearing loss. Shortly after these symptoms begin, you may begin to suffer vertigo, a feeling of dizziness not unlike what you might experience after quickly spinning around several times. This vertigo may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and balance impairment. An episode can be as short as twenty minutes and as long as four hours.
Many people who suffer from Meniere’s disease experience several such episodes in a short period of time with long periods of ‘remission’ in between. The frequency and severity of each symptom can vary from episode to episode. Since these symptoms are not unique to Meniere’s disease, it’s very important to check with your physician to rule out other potentially serious health problems.
Researchers are still working to determine the cause of Meniere’s disease, but the leading theory is that its symptoms are caused by abnormalities in fluid in the inner ear. Scientists have discovered that the amount and pressure of fluid in the inner ear is critical to your hearing and balance. Triggers such as improper drainage, allergies, head trauma, and viral infection could all lead to fluid abnormalities.
While there is no known way to cure Meniere’s disease, you do have options when it comes to managing its symptoms. People who experience nausea as a result of vertigo can use anti-nausea medications to alleviate their symptoms. Prescription medications that help reduce fluid retention can also help control the disease. Rehabilitation can help counteract the balance problems associated with vertigo, while hearing aids can help during episodes of hearing loss. Sitting or lying down immediately if you begin to notice vertigo can help you avoid falls, while avoiding triggers that make your symptoms worse (such as bright lights or reading) can help lessen the severity of the episode.
While the symptoms of Meniere’s disease can certainly pose challenges, the good news is that there are strategies for minimizing them so that patients suffering from this condition can live near-normal lives.