Dizziness Frequently Asked Questions

What is Meniere's Disease?

Meniere's is classified as an inner ear disorder that causes repeated attacks of dizziness and the discomfort of fullness from the affected ear. This is due to increase pressure of the inner ear fluids. Fluids in the inner ear chambers are constantly being produced and absorbed by the circulatory system. If there are any disturbance in the delicate relationship, this results is over production or under absorption of the fluids. This leads to increase fluid pressure (which may be felt) that usually produces dizziness which can be associated with fluctuating hearing loss and ringing in the ear. It is rare for someone to be affected in both ears at the same time. Evaluation by an Otologist or Neurotolist (Inner Ear Specialist) is needed to determine the cause of the increase fluid pressure. Circulatory, metabolic, toxic, allergic or emotional factors may play a part in an case.

What are the symptoms of Meniere's?

Meniere's disease is characterized by severe attacks of dizziness that can vary from a few minutes to several hours or even days. Hearing loss and head noise (ringing in the ear) usually accompany the attacks. The dizziness attacks can occur suddenly without any warning. Violent spinning, whirling and falling sensations with nausea are the most common symptoms. For some, a sensation of pressure (fullness) in the ear is usually present. Sometimes if the pressure is severe, it can effect normal activities such as lack of concentration and short term memory loss. These attacks may occur at irregular intervals. The individual can be free of symptoms for many years at a time.

Occasionally hearing impairment, ringing noise and ear pressure occur without dizziness. This type of Meniere's disease is called cochlear hydrops. Dizziness and ear pressure may occur without hearing loss and ringing, this is called Vestibular Hydrops. Treatment for both of these is the same as Meniere's.

Are there treatments available?

Yes, Meniere's disease can be treated with both medically or surgically options.

Medical Options: Treatment may vary, depending on the patient. This depends on several factors according to the cause, magnitude and frequency of the symptoms. In order to improve the inner ear circulation and control the fluid pressure, treatment may consist of medication to stimulate the inner ear circulation. Such are vasodilating drugs (blood pressure pills) Diuretics (water pills) with anti-dizziness medication. People with Meniere's should void caffeine and nicotine for this has an opposite effect on drug treatment. Another form of treatment is special diets such as reducing salt and or potassium. (would like more information about this)

Surgical Options: Surgery is only recommended where medical treatment fails to relieve the attacks of dizziness and pressure. Surgery is successful in relieving acute attacks in the majority of patients.

How is the vestibular system affected during a concussion?

A concussion is defined as an immediate acceleration, deceleration, or stopping event causing temporary or permanent damage to the structures of the head. The vestibular system and more specifically the labyrinthine structures within the inner ear appear to be more susceptible to blunt head trauma then the skull or brain. Symptoms from both types of concussions can be similar; however the treatment for each is significantly different. This is why even "small concussions" can cause lasting problems and it is never too late to seek effective treatment for your symptoms.

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