If you have never heard of Meniere’s disease, you are not alone. Only about 0.2% of people are affected by this rare vestibular disorder. However, that number may be a little misleading as tens of thousands are diagnosed each year in the US alone. With the condition becoming more common, it raises questions like:
- What are the most common Meniere’s disease symptoms?
- How does a person get a Meniere’s disease diagnosis?
- What are some Meniere’s disease causes?
- Is there a natural way to care for Meniere’s disease?
We’re going to adders the answer to these four questions and help provide hope for those suffering from this debilitating condition.
What Are the Most Common Meniere’s Disease Symptoms?
There are four primary Meniere’s disease symptoms that comprise this condition. They are:
- Vertigo – Vertigo refers to a false sensation of movement. Often it presents as the feeling that the room is spinning. In the case of Meniere’s disease, vertigo is often severe. It arises out of the blue and is sometimes sudden enough to cause a fall. Vertigo bouts associated with Meniere’s also may last longer than attacks associated with other underlying conditions, so while vertigo is an extremely common symptom, Meniere’s makes it far more debilitating.
- Tinnitus – Tinnitus refers to a ringing, buzzing, or rushing sound in the ear. This is another symptom that is very common but is more severe when associated with Meniere’s. The sounds may be almost deafening, making it difficult to concentrate during an attack.
- Hearing Loss – During a flare-up of Meniere’s a person may lose some hearing in the affected ear. As the syndrome progresses, this hearing loss may become permanent. Hearing loss has also become associated with Meniere’s due to a risky surgery some patients opt for that causes deafness in a shockingly high rate of patients.
- Pressure in the Ear – Meniere’s disease usually only affects one ear. Patients complain about a feeling of fullness or pressure in the affected ear. Since Meniere’s patients often suffer from endolymphatic hydrops (too much of the naturally occurring fluid in the ear called hydrops), it may be this excess of fluid that creates the pressure or feeling of fullness.
How Does a Person Get a Diagnosis?
There is no Meniere’s disease test to confirm or rule out the condition automatically. As a result, diagnosis generally involves examining the symptoms and ruling out other possible causes. In order to receive an official diagnosis of Meniere’s disease, you must have experienced at least two bouts of vertigo, each of which lasts at least 20 minutes but no more than 24 hours. Shorter vertigo bouts are usually related to positional vertigo. Longer bouts may have a more extensive cause in the vestibular nerve or central nervous system.
The hearing loss associated with Meniere’s disease will be verified with an audiogram (hearing test). This not only confirms the hearing loss but can also rule out other hearing problems. These two factors combined with a history of tinnitus and a lack of other explanations for the symptoms, can lead to an official diagnosis.
In the hearing test, your doctor will expect to see loss of hearing in certain frequencies. Meniere’s patients often lose low-frequency hearing first followed by high frequency. Mid-range frequencies are generally normal in Meniere’s patients.
What Are Some Meniere’s Disease Causes?
The cause of Meniere’s disease is not fully understood at this time. Medical professionals have linked the condition to an excess of fluid, usually just in one ear. However, the cause of the abnormal fluid buildup is what is in question. This is the problem that would have to be corrected in order to eliminate the problem on a long-term basis. Here are some of the theories:
- Anatomic abnormalities – If something is anatomically wrong with a person’s Eustachian tube on one side, this will reduce the ear’s ability to drain naturally.
- Allergies – Allergies cause an inflammatory reaction which may block the ear from draining properly.
- Viral infection – If a viral infection such as a cold or flu does damage to the structures of the ear, this could cause excessive fluid buildup.
- Genetic predisposition – It has been proposed that some people may have a genetic predisposition to not having the ear drain properly.
- Trauma – An injury to the head or neck could lead to the type of damage that results in Meniere’s disease symptoms.
This last potential cause was the subject of a case study involving upper cervical chiropractic care. When 300 Meniere’s patients saw an average improvement in symptom severity of 90% and 97% of patients saw significant benefits, it helped to confirm that the conditions leading to Meniere’s disease can indeed be caused by an upper cervical misalignment.
Finding Natural Relief from Meniere’s Disease Symptoms
Upper cervical chiropractic care involves precise and gentle adjustments that are long-lasting and give the body the time it needs to heal from the damage caused by the subluxation. When the atlas is misaligned, it can gradually cause a lesion to form on the Eustachian tube. As a result, it can take up to 15 years for Meniere’s disease symptoms to manifest following an accident or injury. Thus, you should not discount an “old injury” as being healed and not the underlying cause of your symptoms.
If you are suffering from Meniere’s disease, especially if you have a history of head or neck trauma, we urge you to consult with an upper cervical chiropractor. You may be a few gentle adjustments away from improved overall health and well-being.