I have just been diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. Two years ago, my left ear began to roar, as if I’d just left a rock concert, and while it is hard to describe, my hearing was diminished on the left, but more sensitive at the same time. Sounds were distorted, and the pitch of my children’s voices was like nails on a chalkboard. I went to the ENT, who hypothesized I had a viral infection in my ear. He put me on prednisone for one week, the roaring went away, and my hearing returned to normal.
But this summer, the roaring sound came back. I went back to the ENT with the same description of symptoms, and once again, I was put on steroids. But this time, there was no relief. The roaring and distortion got worse, and then came the vertigo. Wow, the vertigo was intense. I was particularly tired after a terribly long workweek, and I came home from shooting on location. I’d only had about 4 hours sleep over the final two nights of the trip. I laid down that night to go to sleep and the bed started spinning like I had been at a frat party. I couldn’t get the room to stop moving no matter what position I was in, and I started to panic. It took about 15 minutes, but it finally subsided and I was able to fall asleep.
The very next day, I went back to the ENT, who sent me for a brain scan to rule out tumors, multiple sclerosis and degenerative nerve disease. My MRI was all clear, leaving just one diagnosis: Meniere’s. Now what’s annoying about Meniere’s is that it seems to be a catch all for any one who has unexplained hearing loss, vertigo and this roaring sound. It is progressive, and can (but not necessarily) cause permanent hearing loss, and the vertigo can be so debilitating that you can literally fall over due to lack of balance, or spend an entire day throwing up from the nausea. Good times.
All of this mayhem is cause by a tiny amount of fluid in the inner ear. There are two areas in the ear; the outer, bony labyrinth, and the interior, soft membrane labyrinth. Inside the soft membrane labyrinth is endolymph fluid, and tiny hair like sensors that detect the movement of the fluid. The fluid needs to be in perfect balance to set off the sensors properly. In people with Meniere’s, this fluid seems to accumulate. No one knows why this fluid builds up, but the improper amount, pressure, or chemical makeup of the fluid seems to be the culprit.
Treatments aren’t always effective. The first line of defense is a low salt diet, combined with a diuretic pill to reduce the overall amount of fluid in the body. I have been on a diuretic for a week now, with no relief. I, fortunately, do not have vertigo all the time, but for those who do, they can be given anti nausea medication. Antibiotics can also be injected into the ear, although that does increase the chances of hearing loss. There is a final operation that can be performed on the ear, but that is only a last ditch effort to relieve a person of extreme vertigo and nausea because it does destroy hearing.
So, my next step is acupuncture. I have done my research, and acupuncture seems to have a very good success rate. I am already a big fan, from past ailments having been completely and utterly removed from my life via little tiny needles.
Do any of you wonderful DailyStrength members, who have dealt with this disease, have any recommendations for me?