Have you ever seen a movie where the main character's life is flipped upside down? Everything is going great for them until one day it isn't. They get sick, or their spouse leaves them, or they lose their job.
Trouble doesn't always hit that hard and fast, but when it does, it can be devastating. That's what might happen to you when your Meniere's Disease progresses and you may quit my job.
Having Meniere's Disease can be mind-boggling at times. It affects your ability to work, stay focused on a task, and even remember things. The worst part is that there is no cure.
Meniere's disease affects around 1 out of every 5,000 people. It is an inner ear disorder that causes vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss and aural fullness. Meniere's disease is not curable but can be controlled with proper medical treatment and lifestyle changes. Those affected by Meniere's disease often have difficulty maintaining a professional job or fulfilling family responsibilities. This has a significant financial impact on the patient and his or her loved ones.
What is Meniere's Disease?
Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear, which causes episodes of vertigo, tinnitus and progressive hearing loss. It was commonly thought that Meniere's disease afflicts only the elderly. However, it is now known that the disorder can affect people of any age. Meniere's disease affects people in different ways. Some have mild symptoms; others experience sudden and severe attacks. Some people suffer from episodes several times a week, while others have just a few attacks in several years.
Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
Meniere's disease, also known as endolymphatic hydrops, is a disorder that affects the inner ear, causing major symptoms such as hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo. Here are the most common Meniere's disease symptoms.
Tinnitus is the most common symptom of Meniere's disease. It involves a ringing or roaring in the ears, which can be temporary or constant. Some people are more sensitive to sounds than others, but a person with Meniere's usually experiences an increase in sensitivity to sound that results in tinnitus. This can make it difficult to sleep or concentrate on other tasks because of the constant ringing in your ears.
- Hearing Loss
Hearing loss results when the balance organs and hearing mechanisms in the inner ear become damaged by fluid buildup from Meniere's disease. It might come on slowly over time, or all at once. Either way, hearing loss is always present for someone with Meniere's disease. The degree of hearing loss will vary from case to case; some people are only slightly hard of hearing while others become completely deaf.
- Full feeling of the ear, or inner ear pressure
Fullness in the ear or pressure in the ear — This is probably the most common symptom of Meniere’s disease. It may feel like water is trapped in your ear, or like you have cotton balls stuck inside your ear. In some cases, it might feel like a foreign object is stuck in your ear.
Meniere's Disease and Driving
No matter what your age, if you have Meniere’s disease and you drive, you have to think about how the disease will affect your ability to drive.
Treating Meniere’s can help a lot with symptoms, but there’s no cure. You probably know that the medications used to treat Meniere’s can cause drowsiness and fatigue. These are things to avoid when driving.
Knowing that dizziness can happen at any time, even when taking medications, it is important not to drive until you feel completely well.
What about hearing loss? You should be able to hear traffic sounds around you, from horns honking and tires screeching to sirens in the distance. If an emergency vehicle comes up behind you and the sound doesn’t seem loud enough for its proximity, pull over to the side of the road until it goes by.
One of the most important things drivers with Meniere’s need is good situational awareness — being able to see clearly and listen for clues about what is happening around them (brake lights flashing on cars ahead, someone running into a store after dropping something on the ground).
If you can pay attention carefully while driving you will notice these details and be able to react. You may want to slow down a bit or pull over and be safe!
Meniere’s Disease and Anxiety
Meniere’s disease like many other debilitating conditions can cause anxiety and depression. Patients with Meniere’s disease have to cope with constant dizziness and ringing in the ears.
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is a symptom of Meniere’s disease that affects more than 50 percent of people with the condition.
Some patients may develop a fear of medical procedures as a result of their Meniere’s symptoms. They may avoid visiting their doctor or having diagnostic tests because it just adds to the anxiety.
Research shows that anxiety disorders are more common in people with Meniere’s disease than in the general population. The anxiety and depression associated with Meniere’s disease can make it more difficult to cope with the condition itself and affect your quality of life.
What Are The Treatment of Meniere’s Disease
With proper treatment, you can manage your symptoms and reduce the possibility that they will interfere too much with your daily activities. In addition, many treatment options for Meniere’s disease may also help reduce your symptoms of anxiety.
Meniere’s disease is not a life-threatening condition. It does not cause sudden loss of vision or hearing in a single ear. However, it leads to episodes of vertigo and tinnitus (ringing in the ear). These changes have a significant impact on your life and can become severe enough to disrupt your daily activities.
Treatment consists of medications as well as lifestyle changes, including diet and stress reduction. Meniere’s disease is caused by a problem with your inner ear and brain. This problem results in episodes of vertigo and tinnitus, but no one knows what causes it.
There are three phases of Meniere's disease treatment:
- Medication phase – The goal is to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. Medications for Meniere’s disease include diuretics, vasodilators and corticosteroids. You will need to try different ones until you find one that works for you. You may need to be adjusted several times during the medication phase to find the right combination or dosage for you.
- Lifestyle Changes Phase – After finding which medication works best for you, you will need to make some changes in your lifestyle during this phase of treatment. Avoid foods that trigger an attack such as dairy products, caffeine and alcohol. Alcohol can trigger an attack if you already have one coming on or if you drink too much at one time because it dehydrates you.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger an attack if taken in large quantities.
This is because it's a diuretic, which eliminates water and sodium (salt) from the body. These losses deplete the fluids that are located in the middle ear, which then causes the ear's delicate balance mechanism to malfunction. Without the fluid in the inner ear, your imbalance system begins to send false signals to your brain, causing you to feel unsteady and dizzy.
- Treatment phase – During this phase, your doctor will place you into amplification therapy, which involves using hearing aids to amplify sound waves entering your ear canal. These devices may help reduce the severity of attacks and may also prevent the progression of hearing loss by protecting nerve cells in your ear.
As with any other disease, treatment for Meniere's disease varies from person to person. Your doctor will determine whether you require medication or surgery, or if you should see a specialist such as an otologist or an audiologist.
This treatment phase lasts as long as you need it to, depending on how your body reacts to the medication. Once you’re feeling less pain, having fewer attacks and enjoying your life more freely, your doctor will probably recommend that you stop taking medication. However, some people stay on medication for years afterwards in order to prevent symptoms from returning.
During this treatment phase, you might have to go through several rounds of medication before finding one that works best for you.
Can Meniere’s Disease Make You Tired?
Mild fatigue is a common symptom of Meniere’s disease. Along with a full range of hearing and balance issues, Meniere’s can make you tired. But how does this happen? Most of us know that our ears are responsible for our sense of hearing, but many aren’t aware that it is also responsible for our perception of balance and equilibrium.
Those with Meniere’s experience their ears as being blocked or clogged after an attack. Although some medications may help with this, the feeling of fullness can be quite uncomfortable and cause fatigue.
Additionally, during an attack, your inner ear may experience damage which causes inflammation. This inflammation can cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue. The endolymphatic sac in your ear is also thought to play a role in producing these symptoms of fatigue associated with Meniere’s disease.
In the past few years, scientists have begun to understand how important the endolymphatic sac is in maintaining healthy brain function.
In fact, they believe that this sac helps to drain excess fluid from the brain by pulling it through narrow tubes called endolymphatic ducts.
Damage to these ducts may be what causes the cognitive dysfunction often associated with Meniere’s disease.
Can Meniere’s Disease Be Cured?
The unfortunate truth is that there is no known cure for this condition at the moment. However, there are treatments available that can help relieve symptoms of Meniere's disease and help to reduce the severity of attacks.
Treatments for Meniere's disease are well underway, but finding one that works for you may take some trial and error. It is important to remember that not everyone will respond to a particular treatment exactly the same way.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2021 Irfan Adil