Meniere’s disease is the second next prevalent cause of vertigo next to BPPV. It usually affects people between 30 to 60 years of age. While the debate on the causes of Meniere’s disease is going on since long, the problem may be due to an allergy, viral infection, genetic disorder or an auto-immune disorder.
Meniere’s disease is –
An excess built-up of endolymph (fluid in the inner ear) in the membranous labyrinth results in disturbed signal transmission to the brain about balance and hearing. The impaired functioning of the vestibular system results in balance disorder called vertigo.
Minute hairs and a coat of sensory nerve cells cover endolymph in the inner ear. The fluid and the cells move in the direction of the head, sending signals to the brain to perceive the relative body position and maintain balance.
In Meniere’s disease, the fluid balance is distorted leading to impaired vestibular function. Usually, only one ear gets affected by Meniere’s disease. In rare conditions, the disorder affects both the ears.
Associated signs of Meniere’s disease
Along with vertigo the patients with Meniere’s disease also experience tinnitus. It is a constant or intermittent ringing, buzzing or whooshing sound in the ear.
The fullness of the ear, hearing loss is also attributed to Meniere’s disease.
Meniere’s disease and vertigo
The vertiginous attacks in Meniere’s disease is a marked symptom of the inner ear disorder with single or multiple dizzy spells in short or long successions. The severity differs from person to person. Drop attacks are prevalent in people suffering from Meniere’s disease, where they lose balance and fall.
The diagnosis of this disorder is mainly by studying the patterns of vertigo attacks. The neurotologist checks for dizziness episodes lasting 20 minutes or more in 24 hours period. Hearing loss is also an indicator of Meniere’s disease and tested via audiometry.
Tests as MRI, CT Scan, Videonystagmography (VNG), Electrocochleography (ECochG) and Audiometry give a conclusive diagnosis of a Meniere’s disease.
How to treat Meniere’s disease
Diet changes are the first line of treatment for Meniere’s disease. The diet primarily contains low salt and caffeine intake to limit the fluid retention in the body.
Diuretics, vestibular suppressants, anti-vertigo medications help reduce the condition’s symptoms to a great extent.
Hearing aids help with the partial hearing loss.
The vestibular rehabilitation program is a physical therapy to retrain the brain to find a substitute for one ear’s deficient vestibular functions with another. The therapy is beneficial and provides lasting release from bothersome vertigo symptoms.
Meniett device pulsates into the inner ear through a tube, helping to release pressure built-up and ease fluid exchange.
Injections in the middle ear and surgical procedures often opt when the Meniere’s disease is severe, and its symptoms of vertigo and hearing loss are a way too intense.
Day-to-day care for Meniere’s disease
Well, although medical assistance is crucial in treating this disorder, bringing some variations in your daily lives add favourably to the treatment results.
Here’s what you can do
Since you are vulnerable to vertigo drop attacks; be cautious when you are driving, riding, exercising, working on machinery etc. STOP whatever you are doing and lie down or sit in a safe place. Do take rest after a vertigo attack. Rushing to resume your work only leads to another vertigo episode.
Reduce stress and relax. Engage yourself in meditation or follow visualisation technique to release stress, anxiety and despair about the situation.
Join support groups founded on similar problems. The exchange of thoughts, coping strategies, information, emotions helps to build your life around the disorder in an efficient manner and lifts self-assurance.
NeuroEquilibrium – Advanced Vertigo and Balance Clinic is the initiative of Dr Anita Bhandari to take vertigo treatment to as many people as possible. She is a well-known speaker at conferences on vertigo and balance disorder management conducted globally. Dr Anita is an MS in ENT and a fellow in Otology and Neuro-otology from Singapore. The diagnostic tools used in NeuroEquilibrium are most advanced and developed in India. Three of the breakthrough technologies are in-line for patent approval.