Posted June 3, 2020
Each year, over 45,000 people are diagnosed with Meniere’s, an inner ear disease. Although that may not seem like a lot, it’s important to know about Meniere’s. For those who suffer from it, and their caregivers, it can have a significant impact on their lives. Here are four things to know about this inner ear disease.
People with Meniere’s disease may encounter sudden dizziness, known as vertigo. They also may experience ear ringing, called tinnitus. Other symptoms include the onset of muffled hearing, or a feeling of fullness or congestion, in the inner ear. It usually happens only in one ear. For some, Meniere’s symptoms can be severe, occurring suddenly and lasting for several days. For others, the symptoms occur randomly.
Meniere’s disease can affect people of any age, but especially adults ages 40 to 60. Meniere’s causes fluid to build up in the labyrinth, the semicircle canal structures of the inner ear. The labyrinth contains the organs for balance and hearing. It stimulates cells to signal the brain, so it can manage the body’s position and movement.
Some people diagnosed with Meniere’s disease report feeling depressed and anxious. They worry about when the next episode of vertigo will occur. They also worry about hearing loss. Because over time, hearing loss can occur.
Researchers have not found a specific reason why this inner ear disease happens. Some studies have shown links to genetics, infection or allergies. It also could be caused by an autoimmune disorder or head trauma. Meniere’s can be debilitating to the point where a person must rely on others for transportation and other care. So if you or a loved one experience vertigo or continuous inner ear discomfort, please see a doctor.
Medical professionals say people with Meniere’s disease or inner ear distress may find relief through medications. Or, dietary changes may help, such as limiting salt, caffeine, alcohol and chocolate. In some cases, treatment may include surgery, cognitive therapy or positive pressure pulses. There are alternative options, too, such as acupuncture, tai chi or herbal supplements. However, be sure to tell your doctor if you’re considering alternative therapy while already receiving medical treatment.
Millions of people have some degree of hearing loss. Good hearing is precious. Because once it’s gone, it cannot be restored. That’s why hearing changes and inner ear complications can have far-reaching effects. Poor hearing can impact people’s cognitive abilities and quality of life in many ways.