Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo (dizziness) and intermittent hearing loss are three of the most recognizable signs of a condition known as “Meniere’s disease”. This condition affects your inner ear, causing you to have symptoms that disrupt your balance and hearing. Although doctors cannot yet cure this condition, there are nonetheless steps you can take to lessen the outward symptoms and reduce their impact on your daily life.
The symptoms of Meniere’s disease tend to occur in clusters of episodes. A common starting point of these episodes is a feeling of fullness in the ear that leads to tinnitus and mild hearing loss. Vertigo is likely to come next, causing you to feel as though the room is spinning around you. This dizziness may also come with nausea, vomiting and balance problems. Episodes vary in length, sometimes ending as quickly as twenty minutes or lasting for hours.
Clusters of these Meniere’s disease episodes (multiple episodes occurring within a short period of time) are sometimes separated by longer, symptom-free periods of “remission”. Symptoms vary from episode to episode in terms of intensity and duration. Vertigo can sometimes signify a more serious condition, so be sure to check in with your doctor if you find yourself experiencing this symptom.
There is no clear cause of Meniere’s disease, but researchers theorize that abnormalities in the volume or composition of fluids in the inner ear may be to blame. Your ear relies on very specific levels of fluid volume and pressure to function as it should. Triggers such as improper drainage, allergies, head trauma, and viral infection could all lead to fluid abnormalities.
While there is no known way to cure Meniere’s disease, you do have options when it comes to managing its symptoms. People who experience nausea as a result of vertigo can use anti-nausea medications to alleviate their symptoms. Prescription medications that help reduce fluid retention can also help control the disease. Hearing aids offer a proven solution for episodes of hearing loss, while rehabilitation has been shown to improve balance during episodes of vertigo. Be sure to sit or lie down immediately if you are experiencing vertigo, and avoid triggers such as television or bright lights to help lessen an episode’s severity.
Although there are some unpleasant symptoms associated with Meniere’s disease, there are steps that you can take to manage your episodes and reduce the impact they have on your life.