Imagine waking up and no longer being able to hear in one of your ears. And, after losing the ability to hear, you are suddenly affected by bouts of vertigo attacks that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. This is what happened to James Raath, business consultant and author of Love Mondays, who suffers from Meniere’s disease which is a disease that is caused by a fluid imbalance in the inner ear that forces the membrane separating the chambers to rupture.
Dr. David Friedland, Professor and Vice Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at Medical College of Wisconsin, explains that this disease is commonly diagnosed, however, it is an uncommon disease to have. While the main symptoms, tinnitus and vertigo, are experienced by many people, the presence of both does not necessarily imply that the person has Meniere’s. Furthermore, Dr. Friedland explains that it is unknown whether the rupturing of the membrane is caused by the endolymphatic sac absorbing too little or too much fluid. But, the sufferer will be relieved of the symptoms once the membrane fixes itself. However, regular occurrences of this rupturing can have long term effects. Dr. Friedland explains that a person may suffer from progressive loss of hearing and increased weakness in the balance system.
So, what can be done to stop the progression of this disease? Dr. Friedland explains a few ways in which physicians can go about treating Meniere’s disease. The first, he says, is allergy medicine because allergies appear to be a trigger that can set off the fluid imbalance. Another way that he suggests to counteract the disease is to consume a low salt diet and water pills. In some cases, Dr. Friedland states some patients may get a shot that can drain excess fluid in the ear and improve the hearing loss. A final treatment that he explains is ablation which destroys the balance cells within the inner ear. The goal of this procedure is to reduce vertigo by making it so that an imbalance of fluid in the ear does not affect the balance system that causes vertigo. However, he warns that this procedure does not change the disease process, but instead, only changes the balance system so it cannot be stimulated by the disorder. While there is no cure to Meniere’s disease, there are many ways in which those who suffer from the disease can work to counteract or slow down the process.
- James Raath, business consultant and author of Love Mondays
- Dr. David Friedland, Professor and Vice Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at Medical College of Wisconsin