Meniere’s disease is an incurable, chronic disorder of the inner ear that affects more than 600,000 Americans. The disease produces a number of recurring symptoms as a result of a build up and excess fluid in the inner ear. While anyone can develop the disease at any age, it is generally developed and diagnosed in adults between 40 and 60 years old.
What Causes Meniere’s Disease?
Unfortunately, doctors and scientists can’t determine the specific onslaught of the disease. Many researchers believe that the following may have some connection to developing Meniere’s disease:
With respect to sudden, acute “Meniere’s attacks”, it is generally accepted in the scientific community that they are caused by an increased pressure build up from too much fluid and/or too much potassium in the inner ear.
Additionally, some people who suffer from the disease believe that certain triggers can set off an attack, which include:
- stress and tension
- emotional distress
- changes in altitude and air pressure
- certain foods—including foods high in salt or sodium
How Does Meniere’s Disease Progress?
Generally, a person with the early stages of Meniere’s disease may start to experience intermittent hearing loss. The symptoms eventually include vertigo attacks and frequent dizziness. Many people with the disease recognize that a Meniere’s attack is imminent if they experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- loss of balance
- increased pressure in the ears
- increased ear ringing or sudden hearing loss
What is Late-Stage Meniere’s Disease?
Late-stage Meniere’s disease does not happen during a particular time frame but rather when a person experiences a certain set of symptoms. During this late stage of the disease, hearing loss is more prominent and ringing in the ears becomes more frequent and stronger. Rather than suffer acute vertigo attacks, people experience more constant balance and vision troubles.
Is There a Cure for Meniere’s Disease?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Meniere’s disease at this time. But, medical treatments are available that may relieve some symptoms of the disease.
What Treatment Helps Relieve the Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease?
The most popular conservative treatment for symptoms includes following a strict, low-salt diet. This diet is often combined with medication that helps reduce the body’s water retention, such as diuretics. The goal of this type of treatment is to reduce the overall amount of fluid in the body and thus reduce the fluid pressure in the inner ear.
More aggressive forms of treatment include the use of certain prescription medications, vestibular (inner ear) rehabilitation therapy, known as VRT, and surgery. Talk to your ENT about these types of treatments.
Meniere’s disease is still a mystery in many regards. The disease may simply go away one day and never come back. For some, however, the symptoms may become very severe and negatively impact an individual’s quality of life.
Call an Experienced South Florida ENT Specialist
If you suspect you are suffering from Meneire’s disease, talking with your South Florida ENT doctor and learning as much as possible can help you cope with the symptoms. Getting an accurate diagnosis, and professional treatment, can also help ensure that your symptoms do not negatively impact your day to day life.