What is Meniere’s disease?

Meniere’s disease is the main cause of vertigo which is severe dizziness that causes a feeling of being off balance. This is a disorder of the interior ear and lymphatic system which is not yet fully understood and typically affects only one ear.

In one theory, Meniere’s disease is instigated once fluids within the ear (endolymph and perilymph) are not properly balanced. Other theories include a viral infection or even the malfunction of the immune system.

What are the symptoms?

The signs and symptoms of Meniere’s disease tend to vary from one individual to another. In some individuals, they are fully debilitated by the condition while others only experience symptoms once or twice in a year. The symptoms of Meniere’s disease include the following.

 

  • Tinnitus
  • Vertigo
  • Pain or pressure in the ears
  • Fluctuating hearing loss
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and diarrhea

Aside from these symptoms, the risk for falls and the subsequent injuries is high with this condition. The symptoms have the tendency to occur in waves that can last for 2-4 hours and followed by a phase where the individual feels exhausted and requires sleep. In between the “attacks”, the individual might have no symptoms for a certain period of time.

Treatment of Meniere’s disease

Even today, there is no cure for Meniere’s disease, thus the treatment is focused on alleviating the symptoms. It is recommended to shift to a low salt diet as well as avoiding alcohol and caffeine so that it is beneficial in maintaining the fluid balance in check as well as reducing the interior ear pressure.

Elimination of certain medications such as allergy and high blood pressure medications can oftentimes help. Nevertheless, high blood pressure can even contribute to the symptoms. Reducing the level of stress can help minimize the severity of the symptoms.

Risk factors of Meniere’s disease

Many individuals who have Meniere’s disease have a history of migraine headaches. Most individuals with the condition are over 40 years old, but it can occur at any age and seems to affect both women and men equally. In some studies, the genetic component is suggested by not yet proven.

How to cope with Meniere’s disease

The ideal way to cope with the attacks of vertigo is to position the individual lying down on a flat surface until it passes. Instruct the individual to stare at a fixed object and do not provide any beverage or food since it can trigger nausea and vomiting.

If the individual experiences nausea and vomiting for more than 24 hours, a doctor should be consulted to avoid severe dehydration. Once vertigo passes, you have to make sure that the individual will stand up slowly. Allow him/her to hold onto something such as a rail or wall. Remember that attempting to walk during an attack can result to falls and serious injuries, thus it is vital to be careful.

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