- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Ménière's Disease|Ménière's Disease Nausea
In The Beginning...
I didn’t realise it at the time, but in February 2006, my life began to change. I had just come out of the shower and, for the first time ever in my life, was aware of a strange noise in my left ear. Although it was extremely annoying, I was not unduly worried. I dismissed the irritant as having got some water in my ear from showering.
When I returned to work on the Monday morning, the problem had not abated. I discussed it with several colleagues, most of whom also concluded that I had obviously got water in my ear. One even suggested I try standing on my head to help the water drain out!
Although I did not connect the two problems, at the time, I had begun to be aware of difficulties with my balance, the year prior.
On several occasions I would be walking along a corridor in work and would suddenly be conscious of the fact that I was literally swaying from one side to the other.
There followed a spate of incidents where I began to suddenly feel unwell in work. I felt extremely dizzy and sick. My head was spinning.
Totally “out of sorts.” I had to get home to bed, a commute of some 30 minutes. 3 miles from home, I pulled the car over to the side of the road. I was going to be sick.
Lying in bed, it was difficult to turn over. Any movement in my head made the whole room spin. I was also sweating profusely.
Surely I couldn’t be going through the menopause so early in life?
I needed a medical opinion.
I was immediately referred to an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist and had to undergo an MRI scan to rule out any other possible causes for my symptoms.
It was following this that my diagnosis was confirmed in October 2006.
My specialist advised me that there was no known cure for Ménière's disease and that I would have to learn to manage the symptoms as best as I could.
Although surgery was available, it was not something he would consider for a person of my age, as the risks of permanent deafness were considerable.
Have You Ever Experienced An Inner Ear Disorder Such As Labyrinthitis or Ménière's Disease?
To be perfectly honest, I was a little blasé following my diagnosis. I was just relieved that I had could attribute a name to my illness and now I could get on with the rest of my life...how wrong I was!
Even though I was taking Betahistine* 3 times daily, the attacks continued with a vengeance.
The most troublesome bit about my attacks was that they occurred without warning and the effects were immediate.
* Betahistine is a commonly prescribed drug for Ménière's disease.
Life With Ménière's Disease
Aside from the fairly obvious distressing physical effects, there are also hidden drawbacks to a life with Ménière's disease. I find it very difficult to plan my life as I would wish. I am constantly cancelling and re-arranging appointments due to feeling unwell. There is an overwhelming sense of exhaustion and fatigue that I experience, following an attack. I am unable to concentrate, I become forgetful and confused.
My family and friends are becoming increasingly irritated when I am unable to attend social events and have to cancel at the last minute. Their patience is wearing a little thin. That is one of the problems with a disease such as Ménière's. To them, I don’t look ill. I’m sure some of them may even believe that I have hypochondriac tendencies. Meanwhile, I am beginnng to feel increasingly lonely and isolated.
Then there is the hearing loss, something my teenage daughters find particularly frustrating. No, I am not deaf, but I have trouble deciphering sounds when people speak from behind me. I also find it difficult to hear properly when there is a lot of background noise. I now find myself trying to lip read.
I find my balance is quite bad first thing in the morning. I have to be careful going downstairs. My tinnitus is more pronounced late at night. Sometimes, I am unable to sleep. Mundane tasks such as changing a light bulb have now become mammoth. I can no longer ride a bicycle.
I am also now my own boss. I would never be able to hold down a 9 to 5 job as things currently stand. That, at least, is one of the benefits of earning a living from the internet. The world wide web is open 24/7.
I Am Not Drunk...But I May Need Help
I hope this sheds a little light into my life with Ménière's .
Should you happen to pass by me in the street and I seem a little unsteady on my feet, by all means, ignore me if you wish. Go ahead and judge me however you best feel fit.
But please remember one thing.
I am not drunk.
I am simply feeling really, really sick...
What Is Ménière's Disease?
Ménière's disease is an inner ear disorder that causes vertigo, accompanied by nausea and vomiting, tinnitus and sometimes hearing loss. It normally only affects one ear.
The onset of an attack is sudden and often without warning. It can reach peak intensity within a matter of minutes. An attack lasts for hours or several days and is characterised by a sensation of “fullness” in the affected ear.
Unsteadiness, a general feeling of malaise and extreme fatigue often persists for some considerable time after an attack.
There is no known medical cure for Ménière's disease.
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