Nothing leaves a person feeling more helpless than an attack of Menieres disease. Many people are unaware that they have the disease, thinking instead that it is a simple bout of vertigo or sinus infection set of symptoms. Here is some Menieres disease information including facts, symptoms, treatments, and management options for the disease.
While doctors are not completely sure what the root cause of Menieres disease is, it seems that things such as stress, a change in atmospheric pressure, or high sodium levels in diet can contribute to attacks. Attacks can last as short as a few minutes all the way to 24 hours or longer. Attacks can be minutes apart, or years apart in nature, with some having it disappear forever after a few attacks. This makes it somewhat difficult to identify. An ear, nose and throat specialist will be able to identify this ailment in most cases.
During an attack of Meniere’s, there is usually a combination of violent vertigo ( dizziness) with tinnitus or ringing in the ears. There is also a feeling of an abundance of fluid filling the ear which is in fact what causes the dizziness and balance issues. After such an attack, the individual will be extremely tired and may sleep for several hours. During the time between attacks, most are symptom free, however some can have residual effects even between attacks.
Diet and Treatment-
Because high levels of sodium have been linked to an onset of attacks, a Meniere’s Disease diet consists of very low levels of salt, combined with diuretics, both of which will lessen the fluid levels and pressure in the ear. The hope is to reduce the number and the severity of the attacks. In using medication for Meniere’s attack symptoms, both diazepam, which is a form of Valium, and Dramamine, often used for motion sickness, can be quite effective.
Another medical treatment is Vestibular Rehabilitation which conditions the body to readjust its sense of balance. Additionally, there is a newer form of treatment that delivers small blasts of air in the ear as an attempt to displace some of the fluid and reduce attack frequency.
For people who do not respond to medications or simple treatments, more severe cases have been exposed to treatment of injections meant to destroy the vestibular tissue, or Meniere’s disease surgery to destroy the tissue, relieve ear pressure or to destroy the vestibular nerve altogether so it cannot communicate with the brain. Most surgical remedies these days however are of a last resort nature.
For those who think they or a loved one might have Meniere’s disease, information can be found at www.vestibular.org, or www.menieres.org .
An ear nose and throat specialist is the best person to determine whether or not someone has Meniere’s, and can best judge its severity and best course of treatment.