Three of the most identifiable signs and symptoms of Meniere’s disease are tinnitus, vertigo, and fluctuating hearing loss. Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes problems with balance and hearing. While there is no known cure for this condition, there are actions that you can take to help reduce the impact it has on your daily life.
For many patients with Meniere’s disease, symptoms appear in clusters of episodes. Individual episodes often share a common starting point, with a feeling of fullness in the ear that progresses to tinnitus and a small degree of hearing loss. After these symptoms begin to appear, patients often begin to experience vertigo, a sort of dizziness that’s often described as feeling as though the room is spinning. This vertigo may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and balance impairment. Episodes vary in length, sometimes ending as quickly as twenty minutes or lasting for hours.
It is common for Meniere’s disease episodes to appear in clusters, with individuals enjoying periods of ‘remission’ between groups of episodes. The frequency and severity of each symptom can vary from episode to episode. Since these symptoms are not unique to Meniere’s disease, it’s very important to check with your physician to rule out other potentially serious health problems.
Medical researchers and clinicians are not certain what causes Meniere’s disease, but some experts believe that it may have to do with abnormal volume or composition of inner ear fluid. Fluids in the inner ear must be at a certain volume and pressure in order to function properly. Allergies, head trauma, improper drainage, and viral infections may act as triggers for these fluid abnormalities.
While there is no known way to cure Meniere’s disease, you do have options when it comes to managing its symptoms. If you experience nausea during episodes of vertigo, your doctor may prescribe medications to help you feel more comfortable. 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. The effects of vertigo may also be lessened by sitting or lying down as soon as possible after an episode starts and by avoiding triggers that seem to make vertigo symptoms worse.
Meniere’s disease does carry some uncomfortable symptoms, but with the help of your doctor it does not need to significantly disrupt your life.