Ménière's disease is a disorder that causes individuals to suffer from bouts of vertigo (an unpleasant spinning sensation), tinnitus (ringing in the ear), a feeling of built-up pressure in the ear, and deafness. It can affect all ages but the majority of patients are in their 20s to 40s. Due to the nature of this condition, it can seriously disrupt the lives of those who have it.
Symptoms of Ménière's disease
The symptoms of Ménière's disease may last for many hours and include a combination of dizziness, ringing in the ears, and reduced hearing. There may be prolonged periods when the patient does not have any attacks. Generally, as the disorder evolves, the tinnitus and deafness can become permanent.
What causes Ménière's disease?
Although it is not fully understood what causes Ménière's disease, a build-up of endolymph fluid in the inner ear canal is believed to play an important role due to its effect on both balance and hearing.
Ménière's disease treatment
There is still nothing that can cure Ménière's disease outright, but there are many treatments available that can lessen the regularity and severity of attacks.
As salt can be a major risk factor for Ménière's disease, a controlled diet is important. In some cases, there are certain drugs available that can help alleviate vertigo by increasing the flow of blood to the inner ear. Anti-sickness drugs in the form of injections or pills can also help ease the symptoms of nausea.
For advanced cases, there are invasive techniques such as an antibiotic injection into the ear. One surgical option involves the removal of the endolymphatic sac, where endolymph fluid builds up, in order to relieve pressure. Another, more drastic procedure, means cutting the nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain, thus severing the communication of abnormal messages arriving at the brain. As with all surgery, these procedures have an element of risk.
Lastly, the Menniett device employs the use of low pressure waves three times a day with the aim of helping patients lead normal lives again one day at a time.