Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo (dizziness) and intermittent hearing loss are three of the more recognizable signs of a condition known as “Meniere’s disease”. This disorder affects your inner ear, causing you to have symptoms that disrupt your balance and hearing. Whilst medical science hasn’t yet discovered a cure for this condition, there are a number of steps you can take to decrease its symptoms and lessen its impact on your day-to-day life.
For many patients with Meniere’s disease, symptoms appear in clusters of episodes. Individual episodes often share a common starting point, with a feeling of fullness in the ear that progresses to tinnitus and a small degree of hearing loss. Vertigo is likely to come next, causing you to feel as though the room is spinning around you. This dizziness may also come with nausea, vomiting and balance problems. An episode may last anywhere from twenty minutes to four hours.
Clusters of these Meniere’s disease episodes (multiple episodes occurring within a short period of time) are sometimes separated by longer, symptom-free periods of “remission”. Symptoms vary from episode to episode in terms of intensity and duration. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with your doctor to rule out more serious conditions.
Medical researchers and clinicians are not certain what causes Meniere’s disease, but some experts believe that it may have to do with abnormal volume or composition of inner ear fluid. Your ear relies on very specific levels of fluid volume and pressure to function as it should. Allergies, head trauma, improper drainage, and viral infections may act as triggers for these fluid abnormalities.
Even though there is no method to cure Meniere’s disease, there are ways to manage the symptoms. People who experience nausea as a result of vertigo can use anti-nausea medications to alleviate their symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe long-term medications to reduce fluid retention. Rehabilitation can help counteract the balance problems associated with vertigo, while hearing aids can help during episodes of hearing loss. Be sure to sit or lie down immediately if you are experiencing vertigo, and avoid triggers such as television or bright lights to help lessen an episode’s severity.
Although there are some unpleasant symptoms associated with Meniere’s disease, there are steps that you can take to manage your episodes and reduce the impact they have on your life.