Meniere's disease is named after the French physician, Prosper Meniere, who had described it as a disorder of the inner ear. This disease is rare, i.e., only 2 out of 1000 people get affected by it. It occurs in the form of an attack for a specific period of time, with an average attack lasting for two to three hours. Its causes are not yet known, but some doctors say that it is caused by variation of fluid pressure within the ear.
The symptoms of this disease vary from person to person, they are not definite. The two main symptoms are vertigo and tinnitus, which are described below in detail.
The patient experiences severe attacks of vertigo, a feeling of falling, which can also cause spinning of the head and imbalance. The person feels as if he is flying or floating in air. These symptoms can disrupt all the other aspects of life. This attack can last for minutes or for hours together. It may be followed by nausea, or even vomiting. The patient is advised to sleep in such cases, as head movements or any external sound can make vertigo grow worse.
Another main symptom is the ringing or booming sensation in one or both ears, also known as tinnitus. Sometimes, there is also a feeling of fullness in the ear, which is accompanied by a feeling of pressure. There is a strong sensitivity of visual stimuli, followed by nystagmus; which is involuntary movements of eyeballs or jumping of eyes. Sometimes, the attack is followed by vomiting, excessive sweating, and nausea. The disease and its disability may include temporary or permanent hearing loss in one or both ears. Feeling of exhaustion and sleepiness can be observed after the attack is over.
- Although there are no known medicines that can cure the disease, doctors can prescribe medications to decrease the attacks of vertigo.
- Some medicines are known to reduce the spinning sensation and lessen vomiting or nausea.
- Doctors also prescribe medicines for fluid retention, as it may help to regulate fluid pressure in the ears.
- If these medicines don't help, doctors may advice surgery, like vestibular nerve section procedure, which involves cutting the vestibular nerve that controls the connection of our balance and movements in the inner ear.
- Labyrinthectomy can be advised when one has lost total hearing. In this operation, a portion of the inner ear is removed.
- There are also some rehabilitation therapies like exercises, which may help to regain balance during attacks of vertigo. Hearing aids are also suggested in some conditions.
Meniere's disease can cause anxiety and stress, and patients can go into depression. Although it is a rare disease, one should not neglect or ignore the symptoms or signs. As is the case with any illness, proper diagnosis and treatment at the proper time is the assured way to live a healthy and happy life.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.