What is Meniere's Disease?
Meniere's disease is an inner ear disorder that causes episodes of vertigo ( illusion of motion) ringing in the ears (tinnitus), hearing impairment and a feeling of pressure inside the ear (aural fullness).
Meniere's disease effects any age, the first signs are said to appear between the ages of 20 and 45. The condition normally begins effecting one ear. It can then further progress affecting both ears. It is said that one in every 1,000 people have the condition of which 25 to 50 percent will develop Meniere’s in both ears.
It is not completely understood as to why people develop this problem. The common thought is that changes in fluid volume inside the inner labyrinth of the ear causes a progressive pressure increase. This pressure damages the inside of the tubes that are key for our sense of balance.
Meniere's is an unstable condition. It causes incapacitating vertigo attacks that can happen suddenly without warning and may last a few minutes to 8 hours. Some people will experience "Drop attacks" which are sudden falls without vertigo symptoms. Several or more vertigo attacks per year commonly effect a Meniere's patient. The periods between these attacks usually provide the person some rest and allow them to function normally.
Due to the progressive nature of the condition, hearing impairment and tinnitus occurs and can worsen. In some cases hearing loss may become permanent. However, the number of vertigo attacks may reduce in frequency and in some cases stop completely within 5-10 years.
Damage to the structures of your inner ear may be caused by:
Symptoms of Meniere's:
There is no cure for Meniere’s disease. However there are a number of treatments available that can help to stop or ease symptoms allowing people to enjoy a full active lifestyle.
Eating a healthy balanced - diet which is very low in salt may help Meniere's patients. Avoid excessive caffeine consumption such as tea and coffee.
Medication - there are a number of medications used to help meniere's patients live a full active life.
Hearing aids - for hearing impairment. A referral to an audiologist would in this case be beneficial as they help patients with hearing problems and perform hearing tests. Hearing aids can help most meniere's disease patients enormously.
VRT - A GP may refer you to a physical therapist for vestibular rehabilitation therapy sessions to help improve your balance. Here you will learn exercises specifically designed to help retrain your brain and readjust the way it interprets balance information.