Ménière’s disease

Around 1 in 1,000 people suffer from Ménière’s disease. The disease affects the inner ear, and usually occurs in 20-60 year olds. It can result a variety of debilitating symptoms.

Symptoms

These can include vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss. Symptoms tend to occur in recurrent attacks that can range in duration from one to several hours.

  • Vertigo attacks can happen at any time, and can result in dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
  • Tinnitus is the perception of noise emanating from within the ear. It can vary in intensity from a low buzzing to a wave-like roaring.
  • Sufferers of the disease may also have trouble hearing low register sounds, while becoming increasingly sensitive to louder noises. Sound may appear muffled or dull.

The unpredictable nature of the condition can also result in secondary symptoms including anxiety and stress.

Symptoms can increase in severity and frequency as the disease advances, eventually becoming permanent disabilities, so it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment

While there is no cure for Ménière’s disease, it can be treated and managed effectively. Lifestyle changes that reduce fluid retention in the body, such as a low-sodium diet, may help.

There are many medicines available that aim to reduce the prevalence of vertigo attacks. For example, Betahistine is said to increase inner ear blood flow and reduce the frequency and intensity of vertigo attacks. Prochlorperazine can ease the nausea brought on by vertigo.

Sound therapy is used to reduce the intrusiveness of tinnitus, helping sufferers to relax. Specialist hearing therapists can also help to reduce the onset of hearing loss. There is also the option of surgery to correct inner ear problems.

There are many groups and charities, such as The Ménière’s Society, that offer support for sufferers of Ménière’s disease.

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