Meniere’s disease is a chronic inner ear (vestibular) condition. In 1861, French doctor Prosper Meniere had a theory that attacks of vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss were coming from a problem in the inner ear rather than from the brain, as was currently thought. Once his idea was propagated and had become more widely accepted, the name for this condition began to be known as Meniere’s disease. In 1995, a complete definition of Meniere’s disease was given, saying it is a form of endolymphatic hydrops producing a repeating set of symptoms due to an abnormally large amount of fluid in the ears. The fluid that collects in the inner ear is called endolymph.
The National Institutes of Health estimates around 615,000 people have Meniere’s disease with 45,500 cases being re-diagnosed each year. It can affect anyone at any age; however, it is most likely to occur in the age range of 40 to 60 years.
Why Does Meniere’s Happen?
Meniere’s disease is a bit of a mystery among the medical community. No one knows exactly what causes it or why it begins. Some theories include:
- An autoimmune response
- Circulation problems
The most widely agreed upon theory has to do with the amount of fluid causing increased pressure in the inner ear or from potassium being in a part of the ear that it does not belong in. This may be attributed to a break in the membrane separating the endolymph from the perilymph (the other inner ear fluid). Those suffering from Meniere’s report certain events and situations can sometimes trigger an attack to occur. These include:
- Changes in pressure
- Certain foods
- Too much salt in the diet
- Emotional distress
- Additional illness
Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
This can be really hard to determine because the common symptoms of Meniere’s do not tell the entire story. This is due to the fact that symptoms change depending on if it is before, during, between, or after attacks. There is also a late-stage of Meniere’s with differing symptoms. For example, Meniere’s may begin with hearing loss that comes and goes but eventually changes to vertigo and dizziness.
Sometimes before an attack hits, an aura is present – a precursor to the Meniere’s attack. This can be a good thing to be aware of and to help you get to a safe or more comfortable place before the attack comes on. These warning signs can include:
- A feeling of uneasiness
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Hearing loss
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Problems with keeping balance
- Sensitivity to sound
- Increased feeling of pressure in the ear
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and vertigo download our complimentary e-book by clicking the image below.
How Long Do Attacks Last?
Meniere’s attacks can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours. They can come about multiple times a week or may be separated by weeks, months, or even years. It is a very unpredictable disease that makes finding help for it very challenging.
Coping with Meniere’s Disease
This is very problematic given the unpredictability of the condition and the fact that the symptoms are unnoticeable to friends and family. Very few people know what it is or what to do for it. Those suffering from Meniere’s often take on the role of educator – teaching themselves and then sharing what they know with friends, family, coworkers, and even doctors. It is a good idea to let your associates know what might happen when you undergo an attack so that they will understand and can be supportive. Letting them know that a low-sodium diet can keep attacks at bay is helpful if they are preparing food for you.
Preparing ahead of time to manage an attack of Meniere’s is helpful. You will want to talk to your family doctor about what is to be done when it occurs. Is it a good idea to go to the emergency room or ride it out? Be sure to have a safe, comfortable place you can relax in and avoid any head movement if at all possible. Some feel that keeping their eyes open and focused on an item around 18 inches away helps. If you are vomiting, it may be important to go the hospital so as to keep well hydrated.
After an attack, many Meniere’s patients just want to sleep. Resting for a short time is appropriate; however, getting up and moving around as soon as you possibly can will help the brain to regulate balance and reprogram back to normal. Precautions are important as one assimilates to new balance sensations.
Finding a Natural Way to Bring Relief
One reason for Meniere’s disease to occur has been linked to a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine. This is something not easily detectable through a routine examination and is, therefore, often overlooked. The top bones of the spine – the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) – provide protection for the brainstem as they surround it and the spinal cord. This is an area of the central nervous system having the important job of regulating and controlling many of the automatic functions of the body. If a misalignment exists in either of these bones, the brainstem may not function at its peak. This means that signals being sent to and from the brain can become distorted. This can lead to irregular fluid buildup in the ears and cause the symptoms of Meniere’s disease. Interestingly, many Meniere’s patients recall having some sort of trauma to the head or neck before the onset of Meniere’s.
Here at Source Chiropractic and Wellness in Draper, Utah, we use a method that is scientific and precise to help realign the bones of the neck. We use this gentle technique that does not require us to pop or crack the spine. Many have reported improvement in their Meniere’s symptoms after only a few visits.
To schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Cheney call our Draper office at 385-237-3110. You can also click the button below.
if you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com