This inner ear disorder is the results of excess fluid in the ear. It causes tinnitus, vertigo, hearing loss and the feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear. While there is no cure for this disorder, there are a number of strategies that may help manage your Ménière’s disease symptoms.
The most common symptoms of Ménière’s disease include:
- Loss of balance
- Increased hearing loss
- Sensitivity to noise
- Pressure in the ear
During the attack, you may experience episodes of severe vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss, fullness in the ear, and tinnitus. These symptoms may be accompanied by anxiety, blurry vision, nausea, vomiting, trembling, rapid pulse, and diarrhea.
Exhaustion typically follows an attack, which can lead to an increased need for sleep. While most attacks last as little as 20 minutes, they can last as long as 24 hours. Their frequency is unpredictable and sporadic; they may occur several times a week, or as little as once every few years. Due to the unpredictable nature of this disease, it’s impossible to tell just how much it will affect your life.
While the exact cause of Ménière’s disease is unknown, experts believe it is associated with a dysfunction of the endolymphatic sac, an organ responsible for regulating the volume and pressure of fluid in the inner ear. Additional theories point to circulation disorders, viral infections, head trauma, allergies, migraines and obstructions of the ear canal as possible causes.
Ménière’s disease affects about one out of every 1,000 people, with most between the ages of 40 and 60.
Many of the symptoms of Ménière’s disease resemble those associated with other conditions. Because of this, getting an official diagnosis is important. In order to do so, your audiologist will perform a hearing test. Imaging scans and blood tests may also be ordered.
Medical treatment for the disease include anti-nausea and motion sickness medications, an antibiotic called Gentamycin, diuretics, and oral or injectable steroids.
Lifestyle changes are also affective at treating symptoms. These changes include:
- Limiting caffeine, alcohol, sodium, chocolate and monosodium glutamate from your diet
- Drinking six to eight glasses of water per day
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding allergens
- Reducing stress and anxiety
Vestibular rehabilitation exercises are able to help improve balance and hearing aids can help treat hearing loss associated with Ménière’s.
For those patients who suffer from severe attacks that don’t respond to medications, surgery may be recommended. Procedures that have proven effective include an endolymphatic sac procedure to drain fluid from the inner ear, a vestibular nerve section to cut the nerve that connects the ear and brain to eliminate dizziness and preserve hearing, and a labyrinthectomy to control dizziness.
Call Audiology Center Northwest at (503) 232-1845 for more information or to schedule an appointment.