Ménière’s disease is an inner ear condition that causes sudden attacks of vertigo, tinnitus, pressure in the ears, or hearing loss. The disease was named after a French doctor, Prosper Meniere, who proposed in the 1860s that the symptoms were caused by the inner ear rather than the brain, as most believed.
Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
Meniere’s disease is progressive, meaning it worsens over time. It may begin gradually, with possible hearing loss. Vertigo may appear later on.
If you feel dizzy, sit or lie down immediately. Avoid any movement that could aggravate your vertigo. Do not attempt to drive.
Along with the primary symptoms, some people may experience:
- Hazy vision
- Diarrhea or nausea
- Cold sweat and a racing heart
Attacks can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours. You could experience several attacks in a week, or you could get them months or even years apart. After a bout of Meniere’s disease, you may feel tired and need to rest afterward.
Symptoms may change as Meniere’s disease progresses. Tinnitus and hearing loss may become chronic. Instead of experiencing vertigo on occasion, you may experience difficulties with balance and vision.
Causes of Meniere’s Disease
The cause of Meniere’s disease is unknown, but doctors believe they understand how the symptoms occur.
Fluid accumulates inside the labyrinth of your inner ear, which contains structures that aid in hearing and balance. The extra fluid interferes with brain signals, causing hearing problems and vertigo.
In short, it’s unclear why people get Meniere’s. However, researchers have several hypotheses about what might affect the fluid in the inner ear which include:
- Inadequate drainage (because of blockage or abnormal structures of the ear)
- Autoimmune reaction (when your immune system attacks healthy cells)
- Reaction to allergens
- Infection with a virus
- Migraine headaches
- Head trauma
It’s plausible that Meniere’s can also be caused by a combination of the abovementioned issues.
Meniere’s Disease Diagnosis
Your symptoms and medical history will primarily be discussed with your doctor.
A battery of diagnostic tests can evaluate your balance and hearing. These tests could include:
This will reveal the presence of hearing loss in the affected ear. It could include a test to assess your ability to distinguish between similar-sounding words. This is known as speech discrimination.
This assesses overall balance. You will be placed in a dimmed or darkened room and your eye movements will be recorded as cool and warm air is blown into your ear canal.
Auditory brainstem response test (ABR)
You wear headphones during this test, and a computer records your brain waves as you react to various sounds. It is typically used for individuals who cannot have other types of hearing tests (such as babies) or imaging tests.
Meniere’s Disease Treatment
A hearing aid may be beneficial, and some treatments may alleviate vertigo and fluid accumulation in the ears.
Medication for motion sickness may help with vertigo, and nausea medication may help if vomiting is a side effect of dizziness caused by Meniere’s disease.
Other medications include:
- Diuretics. Your doctor may prescribe a diuretic, which prevents your body from retaining fluids, to reduce fluid in your ear. While on diuretics, you may be advised to limit your salt intake.
- Steroids. If your doctor suspects an underlying immune system issue, you may be prescribed steroids.
- A physical therapist will give a series of exercises to do on a regular basis to help with imbalance, dizziness, and other problems. Staying physically active and getting regular exercise, such as walking, can also help, especially after finishing physical therapy.
- Positive pressure therapy (Meniett device): This method utilizes a device that applies pressure to the ear canal via a tube. This improves the flow of fluid through the ear. These treatments are doable at home but if in doubt, it’s best to seek medical help.
- Vestibular rehabilitation therapy: VRT is a type of therapy that retrains the brain to utilize other senses, such as vision, to help with balance.
These go directly into the ear and may help with vertigo. Your doctors may prescribe gentamicin, an antibiotic that is toxic to your inner ear. It inhibits the function of the affected ear, allowing your “good” ear to take over your balance.
This procedure is performed in a doctor’s office, and you will be given something to numb the sensation prior to the injection. Alternatively, your doctor may decide to inject a steroid.
Some patients who don’t respond to the abovementioned medications may be recommended to get surgery.
Endolymphatic sac shunt surgery
The part of the ear responsible for fluid resorption is opened and drained. anesthesia will be administered during the procedure. A patient will most likely spend a couple of days in the hospital.
Specific parts of the ear will be removed to regulate balance. This surgery will cause hearing loss, which is why it is treated as a final option for people who suffer from severe vertigo and already have poor hearing.
Meniere’s Disease Treatment in Rockledge, FL
Harbor City Hearing Solutions offers Meniere’s disease diagnosis and treatment in Rockledge, FL and Space Coast areas.
Request an appointment today!