All About Meniere's Disease: Signs and Treatments

All About Meniere's Disease: Signs and Treatments

Vertigo makes you feel disoriented, but normally the sensation that you're spinning lasts a few seconds. By comparison, Meniere's disease causes episodes of vertigo that go on for at least 20 minutes. Imagine how that would disrupt your day, not to mention put you at risk of falling.

Though Meniere's can't be cured, you can reclaim your life with vestibular rehabilitation at Prolete Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine. The team has years of experience helping people of all ages regain their balance and overcome Meniere's disease. Here's what you need to know about this challenging disorder.

About Meniere's disease

Meniere's disease develops when fluid builds up in a part of your inner ear called the labyrinth. As part of your vestibular system, the labyrinth is responsible for balance.

You may develop Meniere's in one or both ears. When the problem affects both ears, it's often associated with allergies or autoimmune disorders.

Though Meniere's can occur at any age, it most often appears in people aged 40-60. Then it turns into a long-lasting problem that gets progressively worse.

Signs of Meniere's disease

Meniere's disease causes sudden attacks of dizziness that increase your risk of falling or having an accident. Many people also develop fatigue and feel severe stress because they don't know when they will have the next bout of dizziness.

The complete list of symptoms includes:

Vertigo

Vertigo, a type of dizziness, makes you feel like you or your surroundings are spinning. Vertigo episodes occur without warning and last at least 20 minutes. In some cases, your vertigo may last for up to 12 hours, but it seldom goes longer than 24 hours. Severe, long-lasting vertigo frequently causes nausea.

Hearing loss

In addition to gradual hearing loss, you may find that loud sounds cause pain or discomfort. At first, changes in hearing come and go. Over time, your hearing loss becomes permanent.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus, better known as ringing in your ears, may cause a range of sounds that other people can't hear because the sounds originate in your body. You may hear buzzing, whistling, roaring, clicking, or other sounds.

Fullness in your ear

The excess fluid in your ear makes the ear feel like it’s clogged. The feeling doesn't get better if you swallow or yawn.

Treatment for Meniere's disease

Since there's currently no cure for Meniere's disease, your treatment focuses on relieving your symptoms and preventing falls. 

Your doctor can prescribe medications or give you injections that help your body eliminate water, reduce the severity of vertigo attacks, and ease symptoms like nausea. Following a low-salt diet also reduces water retention in your body, which in turn helps diminish some of the fluid in your inner ear.

Though medications might help, vestibular rehabilitation is the one treatment that significantly improves the quality of your daily life.

Benefits of vestibular rehabilitation 

Vestibular rehabilitation uses specialized exercise techniques to alleviate your vertigo and dizziness. Your brain has the ability to compensate for vertigo, but that doesn't happen naturally. Instead, it needs training that teaches it how to offset the loss of balance.

When you have vestibular rehabilitation, we create an exercise regimen that trains your body what to do. Your program may include techniques such as:

Gaze stabilization

This group of head and neck exercises improves your vision and makes it easier to focus on an object when you move around. The types of exercises you receive depend on the severity of your Meniere's and specific vision challenges.

Habituation exercises

Habituation exercises reduce your vertigo and dizziness by repeatedly exposing you to the movements or stimuli that trigger episodes. The severity of your vertigo gradually improves and over time, your brain learns to ignore the triggers.

Balance training exercises

Balance training includes improving your posture and strengthening the muscles needed to maintain your stability and balance. We use a wide range of therapies, including basic exercises, functional exercises, and specialized equipment.

Balance challenges

We simulate situations that cause vertigo, make you lose your balance, or lead to falls. As you repeatedly perform the activity, your coordination and strength improve and you’re less likely to have balance problems.

If you need help overcoming Meniere’s disease, call Prolete Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine or request an appointment online today.

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