Meniere’s disease can be quite frightening to experience. All of a sudden you may feel as if the environment around you is spinning out of control. Your sense of balance becomes disrupted and even your hearing is obstructed. Let’s take a closer look at this condition to try to understand it a little better. Then, we will discuss what can be done, personally by you, to help it and also where to find professional assistance.
What Exactly Is Meniere’s Disease?
Prosper Meniere, a French physician, described a condition in 1861 that now carries his name. He was the first to recognize that the following symptoms originated in the inner ear and not the brain, as was widely accepted at the time.
- Vertigo — a sensation that you or the things around you are spinning
- Tinnitus — a ringing or other type of noise in the ear
- A feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear
- Fluctuating hearing loss
Meniere’s affects the entire labyrinth of the ear including the semicircular canals and the cochlea.
Before people have a full-blown attack of Meniere’s, they may notice a sense of fullness in the ear, hearing fluctuations, or tinnitus. When the attack commences, it is usually accompanied by severe vertigo, feeling off balance, nausea, and vomiting. It can last anywhere from two to four hours. Afterward, most people are extremely tired and feel like they need to sleep for a few hours. The length symptoms last can vary from person to person and episode to episode. Some have short “shocks,” while others have a constant feeling of being off balance.
One symptom that can be quite hard to deal with is what is called a “drop attack.” This is a fall that occurs without warning. You may feel that you are tilting or falling and try to readjust yourself. However, many people fall to the ground. It is a very disturbing and can lead to severe injury.
Episodes of Meniere’s may occur in clusters. This means that quite a few attacks may happen within a short period of time and then years may pass before experiencing another one. It generally only affects one ear but may extend to the other over time. Progressive hearing loss is often seen in almost all cases. Most people who get Meniere’s disease are over the age of forty, and it affects men and women equally. In some people, migraines also occur in patients with Meniere’s disease. This may be due to a genetic component or the same issue causing multiple problems.
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What Causes Meniere’s Disease?
While the most widely accepted theory about Meniere’s is that it is due to a buildup of fluid in the inner ear, not everyone agrees. This is because not everyone with Meniere’s has fluid buildup, and some people have fluid buildup but do not have Meniere’s. So, this may add to the cause with some people, but it may not be the entire reason for Meniere’s to develop. Some recent theories focus on the immunologic function of the endolymphatic sac. Therefore, immune disease may be a contributing factor in a large percentage of those with Meniere’s disease. Genetics also plays a role in some patients. Some connections have been seen between TMD (joint problems in the jaw), the cervical spine (keep this in mind as you continue reading), eustachian tube dysfunction, and autonomic nervous system problems.
What Can You Personally Do to Alleviate Some Meniere’s Symptoms?
The inner ear is affected by certain substances present in your blood and other fluids of the body. Foods that are high in sugar or salt can cause increases in these substances in your blood and, in turn, affect the concentration of substances in your ear. It is important to work at controlling these things to help fight off imbalances. Limiting caffeine and alcohol can help as well. Here are some tips that may help you have fewer Meniere’s episodes:
- Try to eat the same amount of food at each meal and do not skip meals. Distribute your food and fluid intake evenly throughout the day.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Keep well hydrated, and if you plan to exercise or be out in the heat, bring extra fluids with you.
- Limit alcohol to one glass of wine or one beer daily.
- Avoid MSG, popular in Asian cooking, as it contains a lot of sodium and can trigger migraines as well as Meniere’s symptoms.
- Avoid things that are salty as salt intake results in fluctuations in the inner ear fluid pressure making your symptoms worse. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and avoid as many canned or processed foods as possible. You should have no more than 1000 mg of sodium daily.
Professional Help for Meniere’s Disease
Sometimes, the common link between Meniere’s disease and migraines may actually have to do with the upper cervical spine, as mentioned above. A misalignment here puts the brainstem under stress and can cause a number of health problems throughout the body. If the brainstem is unable to communicate properly with the brain about the body’s location, Meniere’s can be the end result. A misalignment here can also hinder the fluid from draining properly from the ears due to a lesion that grows on the eustachian tube over many years.
Here at Symmetry Health Chiropractic Center in Cedar Park, Texas, we use a gentle method to correct the alignment of the bones in the upper neck. The C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) are usually the ones that are more likely to move out of place. We do not need to crack or pop the back or neck to get positive results, and this is one thing our patients really appreciate. They get a readjustment without the pain of force on the spine. This often leads to their seeing a decrease in Meniere’s disease. Some see it go away and not return.
To schedule a complimentary consultation call our Cedar Park, TX office at 512-331-7422 You can also click the button below.