Meniere’s disease was first identified in the early 1800s by French physician Prosper Meniere. He began theorizing that the symptoms associated with this condition (ringing in the ears, vertigo, and hearing loss) were actually coming from the inner ear instead of the brain, as was widely accepted at the time. This theory made sense and began to be accepted, leading to the condition being named, as we know it today, Meniere’s disease.
So, What Exactly Is Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease is a chronic, incurable vestibular disorder of the inner ear defined in 1995 by the Committee on Hearing and Equilibrium of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery as the idiopathic syndrome of endolymphatic hydrops. While the definition may sound a little confusing, it basically means that Meniere’s disease creates a set of symptoms occurring over and over, resulting in an abnormal buildup of a fluid referred to as endolymph collecting in the inner ear.
Meniere’s disease has been seen to occur in any age range but most commonly occurs in the ages of 40 to 60 years. It hard to pinpoint the exact number of those suffering from this condition because there is no official way to report it. However, the National Institutes of Health states around 615,00 people in America have Meniere’s, while 45,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.
What Makes It Happen?
No one really knows why Meniere’s begins. There have been a number of theories over the last few years. Things such as circulation problems, viral infections, autoimmune reactions, allergies, migraines, and a possible genetic link have all been considered as causes.
One main theory as to why Meniere’s disease generates the symptoms of an acute attack is that pressure becomes increased within the ear due to a large buildup of fluid in the inner ear. Or, potassium may be located in a part of the ear where it does not belong. This may be due to a rupture in the membrane that separates the endolymph from other ear fluid, perilymph.
Sometimes certain events or situations can trigger an attack of Meniere’s. This can include:
- Pressure changes
- Too much salt in the diet
- Extreme exhaustion
- Emotional distress
- Other illnesses
How Symptoms Progress with Meniere’s Disease
Just talking about what symptoms accompany this condition does not tell the entire story. This is because symptoms change before, during, between, and after attacks. Also, there is a late-stage of Meniere’s disease that has different symptoms.
In the beginning, Meniere’s disease often starts with fluctuating hearing loss that progresses to attacks of vertigo and dizziness. Oncoming attacks may have an aura or a warning stage. By paying attention to these signs, you may be able to predict when an episode is coming on and get yourself to a safe, more comfortable place. Here are the signs to look for before an attack of Meniere’s:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Sound sensitivity
- Balance disturbance
- Vague feeling of uneasiness
- Tinnitus — ringing in the ears
- Hearing loss
- Increased ear pressure
While an attack is going on in the early stages of Meniere’s, you may experience:
- Fluctuating hearing loss
- Spontaneous and violent vertigo
- Aural fullness (a feeling of congestion in the ear) or tinnitus
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurry vision
- Nystagmus — jerking eye movements
- Cold sweats, palpitations, rapid plus
- Anxiety or fear
After an attack of Meniere’s disease, you will probably feel very tired and want to sleep for a few hours. In between attacks, most people are symptom-free. However, some may have to cope with the following symptoms between or after attacks:
- Appetite changes
- Problems concentrating
- Being easily distracted
- Looking for the right word
- A stiff neck or neck ache
- Nausea, queasiness, or motion sickness
- Lightheadedness, faintness
- Sleepiness, fatigue
- A headache, heavy head sensation
- Loss of self-confidence and self-reliance
- Cold sweats, rapid pulse, palpitations
- Visual problems — blurring, bouncing, depth perception, focusing, glare intensification, watching movement, problems looking through lenses such as binoculars or cameras
- Unsteadiness or falling suddenly
This is a set of symptoms rather than an actual time. You may notice that hearing loss is more significant and less likely to fluctuate. Tinnitus and the feeling of congestion in the ear is stronger and more constant. Instead of attacks of vertigo, you may notice more difficulties with your vision and balance, such as problems walking in the dark and losing your balance. In some cases, drop attacks may occur. A drop attack is when you fall down suddenly but do not lose consciousness. You may even feel as if someone has pushed you from behind. All of these symptoms may intensify if you are in an area of low lighting, if you are especially fatigued, or when you are exposed to visually stimulating circumstances.
Finding Natural Relief
A case study reported on a 52-year-old man with Meniere’s disease. He underwent care by an upper cervical chiropractor to correct the misalignment found in the upper bones of his neck. After just five weeks of care, he saw an overall improvement in his Meniere’s symptoms. This shows a connection between a neck misalignment and the onset and progression of Meniere’s disease.
Here at Anchored Chiropractic in Stillwater, Minnesota, we use a similar technique that is both safe and gentle. It encourages the bones of the neck to move back into place without the need for force. Once the bones are realigned, proper communication can be restored to the brain and body. and Meniere’s disease has been seen to improve or even go away.