Three of the more identifiable signs and symptoms of Meniere’s disease are tinnitus, vertigo, and fluctuating hearing loss. This condition strikes your inner ear, causing you to have symptoms that disrupt your hearing and balance. Whilst science has not yet discovered a cure for this disorder, there are a number of steps you can take to decrease its symptoms and minimize its effect on your day-to-day life.
For many patients with Meniere’s disease, symptoms appear 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. Shortly after these symptoms begin, you may begin to suffer vertigo, a feeling of dizziness not unlike what you might experience after quickly spinning around several times. This dizziness may also come with nausea, vomiting and balance problems. An episode may last anywhere from twenty minutes to four 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”. Individual symptoms can vary a great deal in both duration and severity from episode to episode. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with your doctor to rule out more serious conditions.
Researchers are still working to determine the cause of Meniere’s disease, but the leading theory is that its symptoms are caused by abnormalities in fluid in the inner ear. Your ear relies on very specific levels of fluid volume and pressure to function as it should. There are a number of factors that could trigger abnormalities in this inner ear fluid, including head trauma, viral infections, improper drainage and allergies.
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. Your doctor may also prescribe long-term medications to reduce fluid retention. Rehabilitation and hearing aids can help manage vertigo and hearing loss. 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.
While the symptoms of Meniere’s disease can certainly pose challenges, the good news is that there are strategies for minimizing them so that patients suffering from this condition can live near-normal lives.