What is it?
The inner ear’s function is to hear and balance. Meniere’s disease is an inner ear condition that causes a type of dizziness as if you are spinning. As the inner ear is affected, there is a feeling of spinning which is commonly known as vertigo. Apart from dizziness, these also cause ringing in the ears, loss of hearing and a feeling of pressure inside the ear.
An interesting fact to note here is that this disease derived its name from a French doctor, Prosper Meniere. He was the person who came to the deduction that symptoms develop due to the inner ear and not the nervous system.
The disorder is chronic but the treatment and lifestyle changes can help you get relief from the symptoms.
What are the causes of the condition?
The main reason for this disease is still not clear. But one thing’s for sure. It occurs due to the build-up of fluid inside the inner part of the ear, also known as the labyrinth. This helps the structures that control hearing and maintain balance. The extra fluid can interfere with the brain signals that cause vertigo and hearing disorders.
The risk of this condition increases due to the following factors-
- Inability to drain due to blockage or abnormal structure of the ear
- An autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks healthy cells
- Allergic reaction
- Viral infection
- A blow to the head
- Migraine Hereditary
A combination of these issues can give rise to the problem of Meniere’s.
What are the symptoms?
This disease is a progressive one which means things worse over time. The problem starts with signs of hearing loss and aggravates the condition of vertigo. Some symptoms of this problem are-
- You can feel anxiety
- Your vision will be blurry
- You might be nauseated
- Your nerves will tremble
- You will have a cold sweat
Over time, the hearing loss and tinnitus become constant. The infrequent instances of blurry vision and balance can become a permanent issue.
What are the solutions?
There are various drug treatments that can reduce vertigo as well as the fluid in the ear. Doctors prescribe medications for motion sickness can help with vertigo and anti-vomiting medications to curb the dizziness.
The other possible treatments are-
- Diuretics- This is a medicine that helps to retain fluids in the body. Doctors ask to cut the amount of salt intake when you take diuretics.
- Steroids- If the condition occurs due to another cause, the doctor can also prescribe a short course of steroids to treat the primary cause.
- Therapy or hearing aid- Therapy such as vestibular therapy can help with maintaining skills of balance. The hearing aid is the device that amplifies the sound entering the ear. (Here are few exercises that can enable you to improve your hearing and personal satisfaction )
- Meniett device- This device helps to increase fluid movement with the help of a tube.
- Injections- The doctor directly injects an antibiotic inside the ear which is actually poisonous. This is done so that the unaffected ‘good’ ear can take over the balance.
When none of the other treatment options work, the doctors recommend surgery. The common surgeries are-
- Endolymphatic sac shunt surgery- In this overnight procedure, the part responsible for reabsorbing fluid is cut open and drained. You won’t feel any pain as the whole surgery under the influence of anesthesia.
- Vestibular nerve sectioning- This is neural surgery performed by a neurosurgeon. In this surgery, the signals that control the balance are killed so that the problem of vertigo is cured.
- Cochleosacculotomy- Another draining procedure, this can be completed within half an hour. The side effect of this procedure is that it can lead to hearing loss.
- Labyrinthectomy- Labyrinth is the part that controls the balance of the body. In this surgery, the doctor removes this part of the ear. This is the best procedure for people who have terrible vertigo or almost cannot hear.
What to do at home?
Unfortunately, you cannot prevent Meniere’s disease from occurring. Although there are a couple of tips you can follow to get relief from the symptoms-
- Eat a low salt diet
- Avoid drinking alcohol or coffee as these can cause dehydration
- Try to avoid the factors that can trigger attacks-
- Sharp changes in weather
- Underlying conditions
Whenever you feel dizzy, you should just sit or lie down. Do not move as this can make vertigo worse. Avoid driving. The consequences of vertigo can turn out to be fatal while walking on the road or driving. Hence, visit our E.N.T specialist as soon as possible if you are diagnosed with this condition. Want to know more? Ask your query in the comment section below!