By Catherine Roberts
According to the Mayo Clinic, Ménière's Disease affects the inner ear and causes bouts of vertigo due to fluid that fills the tubes of your inner ear. On top of the dizziness and nausea, flare ups can also cause some loss of hearing in one or both ears and a constant ringing sound. You might not be able to drive, work, or do regular daily activities at times, though this chronic condition varies greatly from person to person. Unfortunately, the disease is not curable, but there are many treatment options that successfully help manage the disease.
Keep an eye out for these ten signs and symptoms of Ménière's Disease, and see your doctor if you experience any of them…
Dizziness can be caused by a lot of different diseases and infections, but it’s one of the main symptoms associated with Ménière's disease. Your inner ear is responsible for your balance and since the disease attacks the tubes in your inner ear, dizziness is bound to occur when experiencing a flare up of the disease. If you experience dizziness as a result of an attack of Ménière's disease, it may cause you to unsteady on your feet and feel like the world is moving unsteadily around you. In severe cases, dizziness can make you fall over or trip while walking, making it dangerous to be driving, working, or even simply walking.
Nausea is another common symptom. Feeling sick to your stomach and actually vomiting can easily occur when you’re experiencing severe dizziness as well. When attacks of the disease come on, symptoms of vertigo are felt for as little as half an hour to as long as a full 24 hours. Though these attacks are seemingly short-lived, nausea and other symptoms can be felt strongly during the whole flare up. Although a symptom like nausea is extremely inconvenient and unpleasant to deal with, there are over-the-counter medications for motion sickness and prescription anti-nausea medications that your doctor can provide that could greatly help manage the attack. There are also some antibiotics that can be injected into the ear to help relieve symptoms if necessary.
Though usually temporary and in one ear, permanent hearing loss happen to some over time. Many patients describe the hearing loss as if their ear is plugged—sound can seem distorted, fuzzy, far away, or even tinny. Sensitivity to sound is also common, and finding a way to successfully remove the fluid helps improve any hearing problems the patient suffers from.
Ringing In the Ear (Tinnitus)
According to the Mayo Clinic, Ménière's disease can cause tinnitus, unfortunate sounds in the ear described as ringing, hissing, roaring, buzzing or whistling. Since the disease affects people in different ways and with varying symptoms, some patients may experience tinnitus without vertigo and hearing loss, or a combination of several symptoms. While not painful, any sort of foreign sound like ringing in the ear can be really difficult to cope with.
Uncontrolled Eye Movements
Some people who have the disease experience a sort of jerky eye movement in one or both eyes, side to side, up and down, or in a circular motion. It varies depending on the patient and each attack. The inner ear directly affects balance, and in turn, the movement of your eyes. Tests are done to check the response of your eyes when your inner ear balance is changed.
Those who experience diarrhea might be more likely to also be experiencing vertigo during the same attack. To make matters worse, diarrhea can continue to occur after flare ups, not just during them. This makes it very important for you to stay hydrated when you’re struggling to cope with these symptoms of Ménière's disease. Since vertigo can cause you to throw up, the combination of vomiting and diarrhea will make you extremely dehydrated, and cause other health problems if not corrected. Along with diarrhea, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal discomfort is possible.
When in the middle of an attack, people who experience vertigo symptoms—nausea, dizziness, and even vomiting—could also develop cold sweats, adding another uncomfortable symptom to deal with. Since cold sweats are typically a result of vertigo in the case of Ménière's disease, vertigo medication could eliminate or greatly reduce this and other vertigo symptoms. Depending on how severe your episodes are, your doctor may prescribe an anti-nausea medication to reduce the harmful symptoms of the attacks.
Feelings of Fatigue
It’s thought that those with Ménière's disease are more sensitive or susceptible to fatigue, increasing the risk of falling prey to an attack. Some patients have also shown that fatigue could be what causes flare ups, so people with the disease should adjust their lifestyle as needed to reduce the risk of becoming too tired. Work on sleeping well and not over-working or over-extending your capabilities.
Extreme Mood Changes
People with Ménière's disease have claimed feeling a variety of changes in their mood both during episodes and in-between them, from anger and irritability to anxiety and fear. These mood swings and feelings of instability can be caused by many things, so they aren’t necessarily from Ménière's disease. It’s also worth it to note that mood changes and roller coaster-type feelings aren’t necessarily a physical reaction from the disease—the Mayo Clinic explains that it’s currently unknown if anxiety contributes to and causes episodes or if anxiety is a by-product of the disease, occurring after attacks.
A sign of Ménière's disease that’s easy to overlook are severe headaches, specifically migraines. There are so many dietary and lifestyle causes of migraines that it’s no wonder this sign can be overlooked. That said, once you really think about the disease and what it attacks, it’s not so hard to see the connection. It’s thought that migraines can cause damage to the inner ear, and those with Ménière's disease are more likely to get migraines during flare ups.
Excerpts of this article was repurposed with permission of the author and originally appeared on activebeat.com January 23, 2016.
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