What is Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear, which affects hearing and balance. It causes vertigo, the sensation of spinning, as well as hearing problems and a ringing sound in your ear. This condition almost always occurs only on one ear at a time.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that approximately 45,500 people are diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease each year in the United States. The disease is most likely to affect people in their 40s and 50s.
While Meniere’s Disease is chronic, many patients observe less severe symptoms a few years after being diagnosed. There are also lifestyle tips which can be used to manage the symptoms.
Causes of Meniere’s Disease
It’s not known what causes Meniere’s disease, but it is thought to be a result of changes in the fluid within tubes of the inner ear. Other suggested causes include allergies, genetics and autoimmune disorders.
Meniere’s Disease: Symptoms
Most people with Meniere’s Disease experience symptoms in bursts, called “episodes” or “attacks”. Between attacks, most patients do not observe symptoms.
The symptoms of Meniere’s Disease may include:
– Vertigo (intense spinning sensation), lasting from a few minutes up to 24 hours.
– Loss of hearing, or, a ringing sensation (tinnitus) in the affected ear.
– Aural fullness, or feeling that the ear is plugged up by all sounds occurring around you
– Loss of balance
– Nausea or vomiting
Diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease:
Your doctor will analyse your symptoms and order hearing and balance tests, to see if you have Meniere’s Disease.
In the hearing test, you’ll put on headphones to hear tones of varying pitches and volumes. You’ll need to indicate when you can and cannot hear a tone so that the technician will be able to determine if there is any loss of hearing.
Another part of the test analyses whether you can tell the difference between similar sounds. You’ll hear words through headphones, and repeat what you hear out loud. The doctor will use your results to determine if there is a problem with one or both ears.
Other hearing tests can be done to check if the hearing loss is caused by the ear nerves, or the inner ear itself, by measuring the electrical current and testing the ear nerves.
To see if you have a reduced balance response in one of your ears due to Meniere’s disease, an electronystagmography (ENG) may be conducted. This test is the most common balance test for patients with Meniere’s disease.
In this test, electrodes will be placed around your eyes. These detect the involuntary eye movements which occur due to the balance response in the inner ear. The balance response is tested by pushing hot and cold water into the ears, and detecting the resulting eye movements. Anything unusual indicates a problem with the balance response of the inner ear. Further balance testing may help to test your sound sensitivity and to pinpoint which part of your hearing system is causing problems.
Other Tests for Meniere’s Disease:
Sometimes an MRI or cranial CT scan are needed to make sure your symptoms aren’t caused by other health issues, such as brain problems like tumors and multiple sclerosis.
How Can Chinese Medicine Help?
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses various simple methods to determine where imbalances are occurring in the body. As Chinese Medicine sees all organs as related to each other, it’s easy to see which imbalances are causing symptoms to manifest. Acupuncture is an easy way to target these imbalances, and to bring your body’s systems back into alignment to reduce your symptoms. Chinese herbs may also help to treat Meniere’s disease, in a natural and accessible way.
Find out more about how Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you treat Meniere’s Disease at our website: https://balancetcm.co.nz/category/a-z-diseases/menieres-disease/.
For more information about how Chinese Medicine can help you treat ear problems like Meniere’s Disease, see our website at https://balancetcm.co.nz/category/ear-clinic/.
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Martel, J. (2018, September 28). Meniere’s Disease. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/menieres-disease
Centre of Balance: Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine. (n.d.). Archive for category: Ear Clinic. https://balancetcm.co.nz/category/ear-clinic/
Centre of Balance Hamilton: Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine. (n.d.). Archive for category: Meniere’s Disease. https://balancetcm.co.nz/category/a-z-diseases/menieres-disease/