- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Living Dizzy with Meniere's Disease
What is Meniere's Disease?
I'm sure you've been told more than once that you are dizzy....most of us have. Never mind the blond hair thing, I know I've been told I'm dizzy at times. The sorry thing is I am! Not because of my blond hair but because of my Meniere's Disease. I wasn't born with it and didn't really have it till I was in my forties (no comments about age please). While it is a serious disease with serious consequences for many, I have been lucky and guess I have what could be called a mild case though dizziness is no joke. For some the Meniere's Disease diagnosis is an end to a normal life.
What Meniere's Disease is, is an inner ear disorder that affects balance and hearing. It could be called an inner ear disease since this is where it originates. To date my hearing loss has been so limited as to be attributed to my age. (There's that age thing again!) Whether we like it or not as we age we lose the ability to hear certain high pitched sounds. If you want to check this 'ability' click here or ask your kids, I'm sure they have an app for that! So my hearing loss is minimal and though I have it checked regularly it hasn't deteriorated past what is normal for my age.
Another effect of this disease is tinnitus. This is a ringing in the ears. Very annoying and can drive you crazy. Of course tinnitus can be caused by other things but also can accompany Meniere's. Again, I am lucky. Mine is very sporadic and I live without it more than with it, thankfully.
But what about the dizziness? Ah yes, since Meniere's is an ear disorder it affects balance as well as hearing. I never know for sure when I will get a Meniere's attack but I have noticed weather plays a part. I am more accurate than your local meteorologist. I can tell when a weather change is coming by the pressure in my ears often accompanied by a real dizziness attack. Sometimes it is so bad I have to lie in bed. I have found that I also sleep a lot when I am having a Meniere's attack making me wonder what really made Sleeping Beauty sleep! The doctor says it is my body's way of dealing with the dizziness.
However, what happens when I'm not at home and I get an attack? I can usually feel it coming on so if I'm not too far from home I get a chance to get home but when I was working it was not always that easy. I was once at a computer conference in Long Island when an attack came on. I couldn't not go to the conference since I was already there. Fortunately there were several people from work with me and they did all they could to help me out. When it first hit we were walking to a presentation. One person stood on one side of me and one person on the other so that if I lost my balance I wouldn't fall. I told them not to worry I was a weeble and weebles wobble but they don't fall down.
As we entered the elevator, to get me to my room, I was pretty dizzy. I was swaying and looking rather drunk though I hadn't touched a drop. However, the lady in the elevator with us kept giving me dirty looks thinking wow, this one's got a load on and it's only 8:00 p.m. I was able to sleep for a short time and the attack went away.
Meniere's and Diet
There is also a lot of information about Meniere's and diet. The biggest issue is salt. Eating salt can cause your body to retain fluids, this can throw off your balance. It is difficult to eliminate alll salt from your diet but strictly limiting it is a good idea. I LOVE bacon but if I eat it I take the risk of having an attack. I have switched to lower sodium bacon and it hasn't seemed to bother me, the moral of that story is, there are ways to deal with your salt intake.
It is believed that caffeine can effect your if you have tinnitus (ringing in your ears) by making the tinnitus louder. Again, this will affect different people in different ways. You will have to test for yourself to see if caffeine bothers you or not.
Dr. Carlo Oller, emergency physician, talks about Meniere's Disease
While I am making light of this whole situation it really is nothing to joke about. As I said earlier, I am lucky and have a mild case. I can still function though many times we hesitate to make vacation plans not knowing if I will have to sleep the whole time we are gone or not. Actually, the longest I have slept with an attack is three days. Usually 24 hours will do the trick.
There are people who are so severely plagued with this disease they have to give up their jobs and cannot drive a car. I have had times when I couldn't drive but again was fortunate enough to have someone around who could drive me.
The worst part is there is no cure for Meniere's since no one knows the reason you get it in the first place. Suggestions for coping with it include a low salt diet, diuretic or motion sickness pills when you are having an attack, avoid strobe lights and going around in circles (I know we all do at times but mostly I mean as in carnival rides). These are my suggestions gleaned from the time I've had the disease. You can find more information about Meniere's at the home page for the disease Menieresinfo.com
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