Not all hearing loss and inner ear issues are consistent or predictable. Bouts of vertigo that come and go spontaneously, accompanied by mild to moderate hearing loss and/or tinnitus may be signs of Meniere’s disease, a chronic condition that can interrupt your normal lifestyle. Fortunately, diagnosis and treatment for Meniere’s are available through appointments with the clinical audiologists at New York Hearing Doctors.
What is Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease is a chronic condition that affects the function of the inner ear, responsible not only for aspects of hearing but also balance. Although it can occur in both ears, Meniere’s disease often only affects one ear. It typically appears in adults between the ages of 40–50 and comes as attacks of symptoms that last less than 24 hours and can span years between episodes.
What Causes Meniere’s Disease?
Originally identified in 1861, the cause of Meniere’s disease is disputed among researchers. The prevailing theory is that for any number of reasons, an abnormal amount of fluid in the inner ear disrupts the systems of balance and hearing, causing the symptoms experienced during an attack of the disease. Possible factors that affect the amount of this fluid are genetics, viral infection, immune response, or a blockage that prevents fluid from draining properly.
What are the Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease?
Symptoms experienced during an episode of Meniere’s disease are:
- Dizziness (vertigo)
- Hearing loss
- Tinnitus (constant ringing or rushing sound)
- Pressure or fullness feeling in the ear
Attacks of these symptoms, in combination or by themselves, can last anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours. Sometimes, these attacks can come on suddenly, in some cases causing “drop falls,” or sudden shifts in balance sensation that cause patients to rapidly shift their weight and fall. Other times, attacks are more gradual, resulting in prolonged feelings of unsteadiness.
Does Meniere's disease go away on its own?
No. Meniere’s disease has no cure, but certain lifestyle changes, medications, or other treatment options are available to lessen or eliminate the symptoms.
Is Meniere's disease a disability?
Yes, the Social Security Administration lists chronic vestibular conditions as eligible for social security disability insurance under certain circumstances.
What triggers a Meniere's disease attack?
There are many “triggers” for symptoms associated with Meniere’s disease, including fatigue or stress, certain foods or characteristics of a diet, and sudden pressure changes.
Is Meniere's disease serious?
While the condition isn’t fatal, Meniere’s disease can lead to a significant decrease in quality of life, with attacks coming on without warning frequently or infrequently.
How long does Meniere's disease last?
Meniere’s disease is a chronic condition that doesn’t have a cure. It can last for years, or even be a lifelong condition.
What are the three stages of Menieres disease?
There are usually different phases of Menieres disease, which include progressions like an aura, an early stage, and an attack stage.
Is drinking water good for Menieres disease?
Water can actually be helpful in flushing out infections that cause Menieres disease. Make sure to drink water consistently throughout the day.
How do you sleep with Menieres disease?
Sleeping on your back can be helpful in managing vertigo symptoms at night. Make sure to consult your Doctor of Audiology to determine the best course of action.
Does Menieres affect your eyes?
Its common to have uncontrolled eye movements during bouts of vertigo. It can also impair your vision, making it very important to seek treatment for vertigo symptoms.
What exercises can I do with Menieres disease?
Some patients find relief from Menieres disease by doing regular aerobic exercises like running, biking, or rowing. For patients who cant perform high-impact exercises, consider low-impact ones like walking or yoga.
How is Meniere’s Disease Diagnosed?
In combination with the right set of symptoms reported, we will diagnose Meniere’s disease through a series of tests, usually including a hearing test and a balance test.
How is Meniere’s Disease Treated?
Because Meniere’s disease occurs spontaneously and unpredictably, treatments are most focused on mitigating the attacks themselves. However, for frequent, severe, and/or debilitating episodes, we may prescribe medications to reduce nausea and dizziness, or to regulate the amount of fluid in the inner ear.
What Lifestyle Changes May Help the Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease?
Some research suggests that changes to diet or lifestyle can help reduce the severity of attacks of Meniere’s disease. Reducing salt and caffeine intake can lower the severity of attacks or prevent them from happening as often. In addition, quitting smoking and practicing good stress management may help reduce the severity of attacks, as Meniere’s is often correlated to elevated anxiety and stress levels.
Schedule a Hearing Assessment
Meniere’s disease can be more than just a nuisance; it can be debilitating. If these symptoms apply to your experience, a clear diagnosis and personalized treatment plan can go a long way toward getting you back on your feet. Schedule an appointment with the expert audiologists at New York Hearing Doctors today and start getting the care and treatment for Meniere’s disease you need.