What is Menieres Disease?

February 21, 2009


As a sufferer myself, I do get asked what it is, and one of the things about is its unpredictability. It is a disease that affects a part of the inner ear known as the labyrinth, a system of tiny fluid-filled channels that send signals of sound and balance to the brain. Meniere’s causes the fluid in the labyrinth to build up, disrupting both your balance and hearing and it affects one in 1,000 people, usually between 20 and 60 years of age, though I am over the upper age limit and still get attacks.

It is a progressive condition, which means it will gradually get worse the longer you have it and usually begins with just one ear affected, but in 30 per cent of cases symptoms will progress to both ears. Unfortunately the length and severity of attacks cannot be predicted and can range from several minutes to 24 hours.

Symptoms may be a combination of vertigo, tinnitus or hearing loss and common signs are spinning or whirling dizziness, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to noise, ringing or hissing in the ears and sometimes temporary or permanent loss of hearing. I have likened my own attacks to the worst kind of drunkenness, while being on a fairground waltzer, and to date have found relief by always carrying a small tablet that dissolves on the gum and if taken at immediate onset can stave off an attack. Unfortunately I don’t like the side effects, so am currently trying a programme of exercises that are claimed to help avoid it altogether. I was previously given some physiotherapy which proved helpful in rebalancing the fluid in the canal, but was not long-lasting. I will keep you posted, and if you have any other things that work for you, please let me know.


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