WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Meniere's disease is a condition that affects the inner ear. The inner ear contains the nerve of the ear and small organs that help you hear and maintain your balance. The inner ear is filled with fluid that acts as a sensor when you change the position of your head. When you move your head, the fluid also moves and stimulates the nerves in the inner ear. The nerves then send messages to the brain about your body position and motion. With Meniere's disease, there is a problem within the canals of the inner ear. Too much fluid may be produced or there may not be enough fluid properly absorbed back into the body. This causes swelling and an increased pressure in the inner ear. The nerves get irritated and tell the brain that you are moving even though you are not. The nerves get irritated and tell the brain that you are moving even though you are not. The brain then sends messages letting you know something is wrong. These opposing signals cause different sensations that lead to the signs and symptoms of Meniere's disease.
- Signs and symptoms include hearing loss, ear pressure, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and vertigo (feeling that everything around you is moving or spinning). You may also have nausea, vomiting, or trouble standing up. Diagnosing Meniere's disease may need a complete health history, a physical exam, and tests. Treatment may include medicines, surgery, therapies, and lifestyle changes, such as decreasing salt intake. With treatment, such as medicines and therapy, attacks of Meniere's disease may be prevented, and your quality of life improved.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
- Do not drink alcohol: Some people should not drink alcohol. These people include those with certain medical conditions or who take medicine that interacts with alcohol. Alcohol includes beer, wine, and liquor. Tell your caregiver if you drink alcohol. Ask him to help you stop drinking.
- Learn ways to manage stress. Deep breathing, meditation, and listening to music may help you cope with stressful events. Talk to your caregiver about other ways to manage stress.
- Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information about how to stop smoking if you need help.
- Do not walk without help, drive a car, or operate heavy machinery if you are feeling dizzy.
- Sit or lie down right away when you feel dizzy. Keep your head as still as possible and do not change positions quickly.
- Sudden head movements may sometimes cause dizziness. Move slowly and let yourself get used to one position before moving to another position. This is very important, especially when getting up from a lying down or sitting position.
- You may need to limit the liquids you drink and avoid certain foods you eat. Ask your caregiver if you should follow a special diet.
Occupational therapy (OT) uses work, self-care, and other normal daily activities to help you function better in your daily life. OT helps you develop skills to improve your ability to bathe, dress, cook, eat, and drive. You may learn to use special tools to help you with your daily activities. You may also learn new ways to keep your home or workplace safe.
This is also known as vestibular and balance rehabilitation therapy (VBRT). This may be done in a special center or at home. VBRT includes movement exercises while sitting or standing. These exercises will make you dizzy, but can also help your brain adapt to the triggers that are causing your vertigo. Over time, this therapy may decrease the number of times you have vertigo and can help improve your balance. A change to a more active lifestyle may also be needed. Ask your caregiver for more information on vestibular rehabilitation.
You may feel safer if you use a 4 prong (pointed) cane or a walker when walking. To keep from falling, remove loose carpeting from the floor. Using chairs with side arms and hard cushions will make it easier to get up or out of a chair. Put grab bars on the walls beside toilets and inside showers and bathtubs. These will help you get up after using the toilet or after bathing. Grab bars will also help to keep you from falling in the shower. You may want to put a shower chair inside the shower.
For support and more information:
Having Meniere's disease may be life-changing for you and your family. Accepting that you have vertigo may be hard. You and those close to you may feel sad or frightened. These are normal feelings. Talk to your caregivers, family, or friends about your feelings. You may also want to join a Meniere's disease support group. This is a group of people who may also have Meniere's disease. Contact the following for more information:
- American Academy of Family Physicians
11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
Leawood , KS 66211-2680
Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
Web Address: http://www.aafp.org
- American Hearing Research Foundation
8 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 814
Chicago , IL 60603-4539
Phone: 1- 312 - 726-9670
Web Address: http://www.american-hearing.org
- Vestibular Disorders Association
P.O. Box 13305
Portland , OR 97213-0305
Phone: 1- 503 - 2297705
Phone: 1- 800 - 8378428
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have a fever.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition, treatment, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You are vomiting a lot and your anti-nausea medicine is not helping.
- You have blood, pus, or fluid coming out of your ears.
- You have dizzy spells that last longer than they usually do.
- Your symptoms keep coming back or get worse.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.