Meniere’s Disease – What Is It and What Can Help?

June 17, 2018|Vertigo / Dizziness| by Harrison Salisbury

menieres-disease-what-is-it-and-what-can-helpWhat exactly is Meniere’s disease, and how did it get its name? Meniere’s is a chronic inner ear (vestibular) disorder. It is said to be a form of endolymphatic hydrops that produces a set of recurring symptoms due to an abnormal amount of fluid (endolymph) built up in the inner ear.

In 1861, a French physician named Prosper Meniere had a theory about a disease that causes attacks of vertigo (a spinning sensation), tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and intermittent hearing loss. He felt these things came from the inner ear rather than from the brain, which was the accepted belief at the time. Once others began to realize this was probably the correct theory and it became more and more accepted, the name Meniere’s disease began to be associated with this condition and inner ear balance disorders in general.

Meniere’s disease is usually seen around the age range of 40 to 60 years, but it can develop at any age. It is hard to determine how many people actually suffer from Meniere’s disease because there is no official way to report it. However, the National Institutes of Health estimates around 615,000 people in the USA have Meniere’s disease, with 45,500 new cases diagnosed each year.

What Causes Meniere’s Disease?

Meniere’s disease remains a mystery among the medical community. It is not really known the exact cause of the condition, but many theories abound:

  • Viral infections
  • Circulation problems
  • Autoimmune reactions
  • Migraines
  • Allergies
  • Genetics

Experts cannot agree on exactly which theory is correct. The theory that is most agreed upon is that the attacks occur due to an increase of pressure because of a large amount of endolymph in the inner ear or from the potassium crystals in part of the ear where they do not belong. This may occur due to a tear in the membrane separating endolymph from the other inner ear fluid called perilymph.

Some people have Meniere’s triggered by certain events or situations:

  • Stress
  • Overwork
  • Fatigue
  • Emotional distress
  • Pressure changes
  • Certain foods
  • Additional illnesses
  • Too much salt
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and vertigo, download our complimentary e-book by clicking the image below.

Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease

Just stating common symptoms of Meniere’s disease does not give you the whole picture of the condition. There are different stages with differing symptoms occurring before, during, between, and after attacks. There is also something called late-stage Meniere’s.

Meniere’s disease usually starts with fluctuating hearing loss and progresses to attacks of vertigo and dizziness. When attacks begin, they may be preceded by an aura (a specific set of warning signs). If you pay attention to the warning signs when they begin, you can get to a safe and comfortable place so as to better cope with the attack. Auras may consist of the following:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • A slight feeling of uneasiness
  • Balance issues
  • Headaches
  • Increased ear pressure
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus

Early-stage attacks

  • Spontaneous and violent vertigo
  • Ear congestion or aural fullness
  • Tinnitus
  • Fluctuating hearing loss
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cold sweats, palpitations, rapid pulse
  • Trembling

After an attack, you may feel exhausted, causing you to have to sleep for hours to recover.

Between attacks

Sometimes, you may remain symptom-free. Other times, you may be symptomatic. This also varies from person to person. Symptoms may consist of the following:

  • Emotions such as anger, fear, worry and anxiety
  • Appetite changes
  • Clumsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache, feeling as if your head is heavy
  • Fatigue, exhaustion, sleepiness
  • Problems concentrating, being distracted, having trouble finding the right word
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Nausea
  • Stiff and sore neck
  • Palpitations, rapid pulse, cold sweats
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Unsteadiness
  • Visual difficulties
  • Vomiting

Late-stage Meniere’s disease

This actually refers to a set of symptoms rather than a time or duration. Hearing loss is more significant and fluctuates less often. Tinnitus and congestion of the ear are stronger and more consistent. Vertigo is actually replaced by more serious struggles with vision and balance. You may experience drop attacks (all of a sudden falling to the ground). These symptoms in late-stage Meniere’s can be intensified by low lighting, being tired, or being exposed to visually stimulating situations.

How Long Do Meniere’s Attacks Last?

Attacks of Meniere’s disease can last from 20 minutes to 24 hours. They may happen repeatedly over a week’s time or be separated by weeks, months, or even years. Because the condition is so unpredictable, it is very hard to manage. Even doctors and researchers are frustrated by it.

Finding Natural Relief for Meniere’s Disease

A study was done of 139 Meniere’s patients. All of the 139, upon examination, had a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine, either the C1 or C2 vertebra. Each of the patients recalled having some sort of trauma to their head or neck in the past. Some in the recent past and others many years ago. The patients were given adjustments that were tailored to their specific needs. Out of the 139, all but 3 saw a major reduction in symptoms, especially vertigo.

Here at Brain & Spine Upper Cervical Chiropractic in West Jordan, Utah, we use a technique similar to the one used in the above-mentioned study to help our patients with Meniere’s disease. Rather than popping or cracking the spine and neck, we use a method that is gentle and precise. It is more natural because it encourages the bones of the neck to move back into place on their own, without the use of force. This leads to a longer-lasting adjustment. Many patients report seeing a significant improvement in their symptoms after only a few adjustments.

 

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Salisbury, call our West Jordan office at 801-823-2523. 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.