Understanding Meniere’s Disease And Its Similar Conditions

Most of the people experience ringing in the ear (tinnitus) after attending a concert or feel dizzy from standing up too fast. Some of us also feel a loss of balance and a feeling of fullness in the infected ear with a headache. When you experience all the symptoms together then is a possibility that you are might experiencing Meniere’s disease. Also, in its diagnosis, it is very important to differentiate between Meniere’s disease and its similar conditions.

Living with Meniere’s disease is like living with an invisible illness. One can never predict what the other person is experiencing on the inside.

Understanding Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is also called idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops. It is an inner ear condition that affects both balance and hearing. Fluid buildup in the inner ear generates pressure and therefore start damaging organs what are responsible for hearing and balance.

According to National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), around 615,000 in the United States are suffering from Meniere’s disease. And also, more than 45,000 cases every year get diagnosed.

It usually affects one ear but over time it also starts developing in the other ear in mostly half of the people having Meniere’s syndrome. This disease can occur in any age group, though it occurs in the age group of 40 to 60 years the most.

Health professionals believe that symptoms of Meniere’s disease cause episodes in a people which makes them feel as if they are spinning. Meniere’s disease symptoms usually come on people as “attacks” or “episodes”. Some of the patients with this disease don’t experience symptoms between episodes.

 Symptoms of Meniere’s disease

Symptoms of Meniere’s disease differ before, during, between the episodes. They also vary after and during the late stages of the disease. This disease begins with fluctuating hearing difficulty, then finally progressing to attacks of dizziness and vertigo.

Forthcoming attacks often come with a specific set of warning symptoms such as –

  • Lightheadedness and dizziness,
  • Increased ear pressure,
  • Hearing loss in the affected ear,
  • Uneasiness feeling,
  • Sound sensitivity,
  • Ringing sound in the ear (tinnitus).

At an early stage of Menier’s disease, attack symptoms include –

  • Fluctuating hearing impairment,
  • A feeling of fullness( aural fullness) or tinnitus,
  • Impulse and violent vertigo.

Most of the time the episodes also include below listed symptoms –

  • Diarrhea,
  • Nausea and vomiting,
  • Trembling
  • Cold sweat, palpitation or irregular heartbeat
  • Eye jerking or blurry vision.

During an episode or attack of Meniere’s disease –

  • Feel like vomiting or sick,
  • An immediate drop in hearing,
  • With a spinning sensation feel dizziness,
  • Hear or feel ringing, buzzing or roaring in the ear
  • Instability feeling on your feet.

Late-stage Meinier’s disease refers to a lot of symptoms. Hearing impairment becomes more significant and the fluctuation decreases. Vertigo attacks also get replaced by more constant balance and vision difficulties. It also includes sudden loss of balance and problem in waking at night time. Tinnitus may get stronger and more constant.

Most of the time episodes or attacks of vertigo can be critical for some patients. It is a long-term and constantly recurring disease. In case you have Meniere’s disease, reducing the sugar intake might help. As salt attracts fluid which causes our body to retain excess fluid. Therefore reducing salt in the patient’s diet can reduce the fluid build up in the ear. However, salt amount reduction does not affect the severity or intensity of vertigo.

Meniere’s Disease and its Similar Conditions

Vertigo: It May Be Meniere’s Disease or BPPV

Most of the time, you will experience things spinning around you early in the morning. Some also experience nausea and a headache early in the morning. The frequent episodes of vertigo are short that’s why they are very intense. However, they are harmless. Therefore, they are called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). It can occur early in the morning or as you try to turn your head at a fast speed.

Although some of the episodes of vertigo with Meniere’s disease are not interconnected with head position same as with BPPV. The attacks or episodes can happen at any time without any warning. These episodes can extend more than 20 minutes every time. These episodes also bring symptoms of vomiting and nausea until the episodes get subside.

Vestibular Neuronitis

It is a disorder of the vestibular portion(labyrinth) of the inner ear. This disorder makes a person experience certain symptoms such as dizziness, severe vertigo, nausea, vomiting, concertation and balance difficulties. The symptoms include frequent episodes of vertigo (dizziness) with nausea. Though there is no ringing in the ear (tinnitus) which is present in Meniere’s Disease.

Vestibular Neuronitis is caused by viruses such as mumps, influenza, rubella, measles, etc. Also, the drops attacks of vestibular origin occur in the late stage of Meniere’s disease.

Migraine

A migraine linked dizziness may occur with Meniere’s disease. The frequent connection between migraine’s symptoms during the episodes of Meniere’s disease purpose a link between both the two disease. People also experience a headache, usually, one-sided and also other symptoms such as vomiting, extreme sensitivity to noise or light, and nausea. However, with migraine ringing in the ear and hearing loss is not experienced.

Bilateral Vestibulopathy

In this case, all three hearing, balance, and vision are influenced. Especially at night time or in certain unsure or unseen circumstances, the loss of balance may occur. Also, blurring or temporary visual difficulties can also be present. This occurs because of the damage to both the ears.

Perilymphatic Fistula

It is an abnormal opening in the bony capsule of the inner ear which results in the leakage of the fluid to the middle ear from the inner ear. It happens because of the rupture in the oval window that distinct the middle and the inner ear.

There is a confusion between the diagnosis of Meniere’s disease and perilymphatic fistula. The symptoms of perilymphatic fistula are hearing loss, imbalance, and dizziness but the spinning sensation is not present.

Treatments for Meniere’s disease

Till now there is no cure for Meniere’s disease, although there are a lot of treatments and change in lifestyle which help in lessening the frequency of episodes. Although, there are cases of remission after few years.

The treatment is of two type. Some treatment tries to reduce the severity of the disease and number of the episodes in the long term. Also, some treatments aim to reduce the episodes while they are reoccurring. Also, dietary changes reduce the inner ear fluid which as a result reduce the Meniere’s disease symptoms. Some of the treatments are –

  • Medication can be used during episodes to reduce nausea and vertigo or both. Certain drugs are there to reduce the symptoms such as lorazepam(Ativan), diazepam*(Valium), meclizine hydrochloride and Gentamicin is used to control the effect of vertigo.
  • In U.S. health professionals believe that reduced-sodium diet with medication that helps in controlling the water retention is a long-term treatment for Meniere’s disease. This treatment resulted in the reduction of inner-ear fluid pressure.
  • Caffeine can make tinnitus worse, therefore you should reduce the intake of caffeine.
  • Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT), helps in reducing the imbalance between the attacks.
  • Surgery is also an option for treatment. It reduces the pressure in the inner ear. Also, through surgery, you can block the movement of information to the brain from the affected ear.

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