What is Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s Disease is an incurable, chronic vestibular disorder characterized by an overproduction of ‘endolymph’, or fluid within the inner ear. Meniere’s disease is most common in adults 40-60 years of age and is thought to affect approximately 615,000 people in the US.
What causes Meniere’s Disease?
The exact cause and reason why Meniere’s disease starts is not yet known. Many theories have been proposed over the years. They include: circulation problems, viral infection, allergies, an autoimmune reaction, migraine, and the possibility of a genetic connection. Some people with find that certain events and situations, sometimes called triggers, can set off attacks. These triggers include stress, overwork, fatigue, emotional distress, additional illnesses, pressure changes, certain foods, and too much salt in the diet.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary before, during, between, and after attacks.
Most Meniere’s attacks begin with a set of warning symptoms prior to the full event beginning, including:
- balance disturbance
- dizziness, lightheadedness
- headache, increased ear pressure
- hearing loss or tinnitus increase
- sound sensitivity
- vague feeling of uneasiness
During the Meniere’s attack, one can expect:
- spontaneous, violent vertigo
- fluctuating hearing loss
- ear fullness (aural fullness) and/or tinnitus
Most people are symptom-free between attacks, however some people may have continued symptoms of dizziness, unsteadiness and motion sickness.
The late stage of Meniere’s disease is characterized differently than the early stages. Hearing loss is more significant and is less likely to fluctuate. Tinnitus and/or aural fullness may be stronger and more constant. Attacks of vertigo may be replaced by more constant struggles with vision and balance, including difficulty walking in the dark and occasional sudden loss of balance. Some of these late-stage symptoms can become more problematic in conditions of low lighting, or with fatigue, or when a person is exposed to visually stimulating situations
How is it treated?
While there is no ‘cure’, symptoms can be managed with a combination of treatment options. Existing treatments fall into two categories. Some treatments aim at reducing the severity of an attack while it is occurring , while some treatments attempt to reduce the severity and number of attacks in the long term.
- low sodium diet to help prevent the overproduction of fluid
- medications to reduce the symptoms
- vestibular therapy used to help reduce chronic symptoms of dizziness and imbalance
- medications and surgical options to destroy the vestibular nerve and sever the communication between the vestibular system and the brain
If you have been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease and are experiencing dizziness and imbalance, vestibular therapy at Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center Shady Grove is a great option to reduce the dizziness and improve your balance and overall sense of stability!