Meniere’s disease is a condition that originates in the inner ear and is known for symptoms such as a sensation of spinning (vertigo); ringing, roaring, or buzzing noise in the ears (tinnitus); and a feeling of congestion or fullness in the affected ear. Eventually, there can be a possibility of permanent hearing loss if the condition is not tended to by a certain point. In about 15 percent of patients, both ears are eventually affected, which means that the majority of people will experience the condition in only one ear.
An episode of Meniere’s symptoms can last anywhere in the range of 20 minutes to 3 or more hours, and the space between episodes is unpredictable. The experience of hearing loss usually happens during a vertigo attack. During an attack, loud noises can become distorted and cause different degrees of discomfort. Commonly, hearing loss will happen with lower pitches but can also affect high pitches. After months or years of Meniere’s disease, hearing loss and tinnitus may become permanent.
A secondary name for Meniere’s disease is idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops, and it one of the more common reasons for dizziness related to the inner ear. This condition usually begins between the age of 20 and 50 years, affecting both men and women equally and with each case being unique to the person who is experiencing it.
Causes of Meniere’s Disease
The cause of this condition remains a mystery to the medical community and is thought to originate from both genetic and environmental factors, according to a research finding that about 10 percent of cases run in the family. One commonly accepted reason why Meniere’s occurs is that there is an unusually large amount of fluid that builds up within the inner ear. Fluid buildup happens because of excessive production or the body is simply not draining or reabsorbing the fluid properly. In situations where both ears are affected, it’s possible that the reason is allergies or autoimmune disorders. Other theories are that Meniere’s is caused by a constriction in blood vessels or by viral infections. A number of other conditions have similar symptoms to Meniere’s disease, such as vestibular migraines and transient ischemic attacks.
Meniere’s Disease Diagnosis
As of 2015, there are diagnostic criteria for definite Meniere’s disease and probable Meniere’s disease:
When two or more spontaneous vertigo episodes last 20 minutes to 12 hours
If before, during, or after a vertigo attack, low to medium hearing loss in the affected ear occurs at least once
Symptoms that fluctuate between hearing loss, congestion, and tinnitus in the affected ear
No other fitting diagnosis
If the person experiences two or more episodes of vertigo or dizziness lasting 20 minutes to 24 hours
Fluctuating symptoms of tinnitus, hearing loss, and congestion in the affected ear
No other fitting diagnosis
Ways to Cope with Meniere’s Disease
Low sodium diet: Adjusting the amount of sodium in your diet can help decrease extra fluid retention in the ears and also can help combat inflammation, a major contributing factor to Meniere’s disease.
Avoid inflammatory foods: Sticking to mild, anti-inflammatory foods are a good option any time you are dealing with a disturbance in the body. It can help the body stay in balance and better fend off unusual conditions.
Balance your carbs and proteins: Controlling spikes in your insulin levels by avoiding simple carbohydrates and starches can help you cope better with Meniere’s. One way you can help with the body’s regulation of insulin levels is to focus on eating proteins, which help with the release of glucagon.
Avoid food additives: Aspartame and other sugar substitutes and MSG have been found to encourage Meniere’s disease symptoms.
Keep well hydrated: This may seem strange to encourage when the goal is to eliminate fluid retention, but staying hydrated plays a key role in the body’s ability to flush salts and toxins.
Manage your stress levels: There are certain hormones that are released when your body undergoes stress, and this can trigger symptoms of Meniere’s disease. Implementing methods of stress relief like yoga, exercising daily, or seeking professional care for your stress can help.
Avoid nicotine and caffeine: These already toxic substances stimulate and even intensify Meniere’s symptoms. They have the ability to lengthen the duration of your hearing loss, make vertigo worse, or intensify tinnitus. Avoiding these is a highly recommended measure to take.
Natural Solutions for Meniere’s Disease
One interesting association that has been linked to Meniere’s disease is a misalignment in the upper neck bones of the spine. A study of 259 patients found a connection to Meniere’s and issues that originated in the upper cervical spine. A second study of 139 people with Meniere’s recorded evidence that upper cervical chiropractic care reduced and in some cases eliminated a number of symptoms associated with Meniere’s, specifically vertigo. How are the upper spine and Meniere’s connected?
The upper neck bones play an integral part in the brain, nervous system, and ear connections by housing and protecting the nerves that the three interact through. These two bones, the atlas and the axis, are vulnerable to misalignment due to their unique range of movement that allows the head its wide range of motion. When these vertebrae misalign, it puts pressure on the nerves and can distort the messages being passed between brain and body. This type of malfunction can cause issues with the draining of fluid from the ears, cause an onset of vertigo, and even cause hearing loss. Adjusting the bones back to the correct alignment can begin the healing process surrounding this issue.
Using the gentle and precise Grostic adjusting method here at Via Vitae Chiropractic in Williamsburg, Virginia , we encourage these small misalignments to correct without any twisting or popping. This often leads to results similar to those in the studies mentioned above and relief for our patients.