Dizziness and balance problems (vertigo), Ringing in your ears (tinnitus), Fluctuating hearing loss.... What is Ménière’s disease?
Symptoms of early stage Ménière’s disease during an attack include but are not limited to
- Spontaneous, violent vertigo, balance problems
- Fluctuating hearing loss usually in one ear
- Ear fullness (aural fullness), ear pressure, and/or tinnitus usually in one ear
Ménière’s attacks can last between 20 minutes and 24 hours and can range between several attacks a week to weeks, months or even years apart. Some people with Ménière’s find that the attacks can be triggered by various events or situations including but not limited to stress, over-work, fatigue, emotional distress, pressure changes, certain foods, and too much salt in the diet.
Why is it happening?
The cause and reason as to why Ménière’s starts is not clear, however the science behind what is happening in the body is known. To make things simpler to understand we will skip some of the fine details which the otolaryngologist (ENT) is charged with understanding. The fluid filled inner ear (cochlea) is responsible for hearing, as well as balance. The fluid in the inner ear is called endolymph. Someone who has Ménière’s disease has a large excess of endolymph which causes increased pressure in the inner ear. As a result, the affected patient experiences the balance and hearing issues.
What to do if you experience your first attack?
Get yourself to a safe and more comfortable area. Seek medical attention as soon as possible either through your family doctor or through your local hospital.
What are the long term effects?
Late stage Ménière’s disease often has less attack’s and hearing loss that fluctuates less, as well as more constant tinnitus or a feeling of fullness in the ear, and a more permanent struggle with balance
Is there a cure?
Currently there is no cure for Ménière’s disease; there are only methods of reducing the impact of an attack, as well as methods of reducing the frequency of attacks. Coping methods include medication and various medical procedures. As for the hearing loss, it may be permanent, in which case there is hearing amplification technology available which can help you hear better. If you are suspect of a hearing loss, find a local hearing clinic and get your hearing tested.
For more information below are a few resources for you.