By Gilda Morales, ANP, DC
Today’s column deals with Meniere Disease, a problem with the middle ear that is characterized by recurrent attacks of decreased hearing, ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, vertigo and a feeling of pressure in the ear because of an increase in the pressure of the fluid in the inner ear. Although this condition usually affects one ear, in almost half of the cases, both ears will be affected over time.
Although the vertigo symptoms may improve, the hearing loss is usually progressive and affects females more than males, usually between the ages of 40 to 60. The cause of this frustrating disease is not completely understood, but Meniere’s has been linked to injury, allergies, syphilis, and even high cholesterol.
Certain risk factors have also been identified including stress, allergies, increased salt intake, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, chronic exposure to loud noise, exposure to certain viruses like herpes and a family history of Meniere. There are other symptoms associated with this disease, obviously anxiety and migraines.
Treatment is rather difficult since there is little research evidence or guidelines, as a result, there is no gold standard at this point. Primarily, treatment is geared toward relief of symptoms of vertigo and nausea. Patients are advised to go to bed and keep their eyes closed until the attacks end, usually no longer than 4 hours.