Meniere’s disease was first identified by Prosper Meniere in the early 1800’s. He recognized the problem causing the symptoms of this disease had to do with the ear, not the brain, as was a popular belief at the time.
Signs and Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
Meniere’s disease is a condition of the inner ear that is known for the following:
- Feeling as if the world around you or you yourself are spinning (vertigo)
- A ringing noise in the ear called tinnitus
- Hearing loss that is intermittent at first and may become permanent if not cared for
- A feeling that the affected ear is full or congested
- Loss of balance or feeling off balance
- Nausea, vomiting, and sweating caused by severe episodes of vertigo
Usually, only one ear is affected, especially in the early onset of the condition. Over a period of time, both ears may be impacted. Episodes can last around 20 minutes to 3 hours. The time between episodes varies. Unfortunately, hearing loss and ringing in the ears may progress to being constant over time.
What Causes Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease is thought to be caused by the buildup of fluid in the labyrinth, the compartments of the inner ear. The labyrinth consists of the semicircular canals, the otolithic organs, and the cochlea. These are balance and hearing organs. The labyrinth has two sections — the bony labyrinth and the membranous labyrinth. The latter is filled with a fluid called endolymph that works to stimulate the receptors once the body is in motion. The cochlea has fluid compressed in it that responds to sound vibrations in order to stimulate sensory cells and send signals to the brain.
When someone has Meniere’s disease, the endolymph builds up in the labyrinth and interferes with the way the ear normally hears and senses balance. The signals between the brain and the inner ear become distorted and vertigo and other symptoms follow.
There are many theories as to why some people get Meniere’s and others do not, but no definite answer exists. Some think it is a result of blood vessels constricting, similar to what happens when one gets a migraine. Others theorize that Meniere’s is the result of a virus, allergies, or autoimmune reactions. Meniere’s disease does appear to run in families, so another possibility is that it is the result of a genetic variation causing these particular fluids to build up.
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and vertigo download our complimentary e-book How to Naturally Relieve Vertigo without Drugs by clicking the image below.
Ways to Care for Meniere’s Disease
If you visit your family physician for Meniere’s disease, he or she may recommend the following:
- Medications: Dizziness and vertigo are the worst symptoms to cope with. Medications, however, can only target specific symptoms of Meniere’s, not the condition itself. Drugs such as meclizine, diazepam, glycopyrrolate, and lorazepam help relieve dizziness and can shorten the attack of vertigo.
- Salt restrictions and diuretics: Limiting your salt intake and taking water pills can help control some of the dizziness by cutting back on water being retained.
- Make some changes: Some patients think that caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate exacerbate their symptoms. They limit or avoid these all together. If you are a smoker, quitting may prove to help as well.
- Injections: The antibiotic gentamicin can be injected into the middle ear to help control vertigo. However, this raises the risk of hearing loss because it can damage the tiny hair cells of the inner ear. Some doctors opt for corticosteroids instead, reducing dizziness without the risk of hearing loss.
- Cognitive therapy: This is talk therapy that helps you focus on how to react to life’s stresses, such as coping with Meniere’s disease. This can help you deal with unexpected attacks and reduce your anxiety.
- Pressure pulse devices: The FDA has recently approved a device that fits into the outer ear and delivers intermittent pulses of air into the middle ear. This helps those with Meniere’s to counteract the wrong signals being sent by the endolymph fluid and prevents dizziness.
- Surgery: Only recommended when all other types of care have failed to relieve dizziness, it may be done to decompress the endolymph sac or cut the vestibular nerve.
Here are a few other suggestions:
- Balance your carbs and protein: Keeping your blood sugar levels in control is an important factor in controlling Meniere’s disease.
- Drink lots of water: While this may sound counterintuitive, drinking water actually helps reduce water retention, not add to it. It works to remove excess salts through urination, keeping the body from holding on to too much water.
- Avoid food that causes inflammation: Foods that are hard to digest can cause irritation or inflammation throughout the body. Mild, easily digestible foods are a good option.
- Avoid sugar substitutes and MSG: Both of these have been closely related to Meniere’s disease.
- Manage your stress: Anxiety and stress can trigger the release of stress hormones which bring about Meniere’s disease. Try breathing exercises and taking some time to relax during the day as a way to cut back on frustrations.
The Natural Way to Help Meniere’s Disease
A connection has been noted between Meniere’s disease and a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine. The C1 and C2 vertebrae were designed to act as a protector of the brainstem. If they become misaligned due to a trip and fall, whiplash, or another head and neck injury, they may actually cause the brainstem to be stressed and send improper signals to the brain about what is happening in the body. This can cause vertigo and can also impact how the body handles the fluid contained in the inner ear.
Here at Balanced Living Chiropractic in Rochester Hills, Michigan, we use a gentle method to help realign these bones. Once corrected, the body can begin working at its optimum, and Meniere’s disease may improve or become a thing of the past.
To schedule a complimentary NUCCA consultation, call 248-652-7225 or just 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