Meniere’s disease can be extremely frustrating to those who suffer from it. The symptom that seems to be the most bothersome is vertigo. Vertigo is the sensation that you or the things around you are spinning. The other symptoms associated with Meniere’s disease are fluctuating hearing loss that may become permanent over time, a feeling of congestion or fullness in the ears, and tinnitus — a ringing, hissing, or buzzing noise in the ears. Loud noises can seem distorted and cause discomfort. These symptoms can hit all of a sudden, causing much anxiety and distress. Meniere’s disease may go into remission and then come back with no warning.
Meniere’s disease is also referred to as idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops. It is one of the most frequently stated reasons for dizziness coming from the inner ear. Most of the time, only one ear is affected, but in around 15 percent of patients, both ears are impacted. Meniere’s disease affects each person differently.
Why Does Meniere’s Disease Happen?
No one fully understands what brings about Meniere’s disease. The most widely accepted theory for a few years now has been that it is related to an abnormal buildup of fluid in the inner ear. The reason for this is still under investigation, however, some theories suggest that it is due to the ear not draining properly, an abnormal immune system response, a virus, allergies, or an injury to the head or neck. Recent research has shed a new light on this theory. It has been noted that not everyone who experiences Meniere’s has an abnormal build-up of fluid in the inner ear. So, while the first theory may be applicable to some people, it is not applicable to all.
When you suffer from Meniere’s disease, you have a sick inner ear and this makes you more susceptible to certain factors, such as fatigue and stress. This may add to the frequency of attacks.
How Is Meniere’s Diagnosed?
After taking a detailed medical history, your doctor will want to know the duration, intensity, and character of your Meniere’s attacks. He will ask about your hearing loss and if it has changed at all, whether you have tinnitus, and if you have a feeling of congestion in one or both ears. He may order some tests to be performed, such as:
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- Balance: An electronystagmogram (ENG) may be used to see where your balance function lies. This is done in a darkened room where eye movements are recorded when cool or warm water or air are gently put into each ear. Due to the fact the eyes and ears work together with the nervous system, the measurements taken of eye movements indicate how your balance rates. It has been noted around 50 percent of patients have reduced function in the afflicted ear.
- Hearing: A hearing test reveals sensory hearing loss in the affected ear. This test often uses speech discrimination, such as the difference between sit and fit, to see how diminished the hearing is in the ear.
- Other tests: An electrocochleography can sometimes show fluid pressure in the inner ear.
- ABR (auditory brainstem response) is a computerized test for the hearing nerves and brain pathways.
- A CT scan or MRI may be needed to rule out a tumor on the hearing and balance nerve.
What If I Have an Attack of Meniere’s Disease?
The best thing to do if you are having an attack of Meniere’s disease is to lie down flat and try to keep your focus on an unmoving object. Often when people do this, they often fall asleep and may feel better after awakening.
Some home remedies that you can try to reduce the incidence of Meniere’s disease are to:
- Manage the stress in your life
- Reduce salt consumption so as to reduce fluid retention in the body
- Get regular exercise but do not get excessively fatigued
How Upper Cervical Chiropractors Can Help with Meniere’s Disease
It may not appear that the neck and the ear have much of a connection. However, the inner ear is in close proximity to the uppermost vertebra of the neck, the atlas or C1. In turn, the atlas bone was created to protect the brainstem. Therefore, if this bone becomes misaligned for some reason, it puts the brainstem under stress, leading to improper signals being sent to the brain about the body’s location in its environment. This can be one reason for the main symptom of Meniere’s: vertigo. This especially holds true for people who have had some sort of head or neck trauma before the onset of Meniere’s disease.
A study observing 139 patients with Meniere’s disease revealed an interesting conclusion. During their initial patient history and examination, it was determined that all 139 had suffered some type of cervical trauma. The majority of these came from whiplash due to car accidents. They were each given specific upper cervical chiropractic adjustments tailored to their specific misalignment. All but three noted a huge improvement in their symptoms of Meniere’s. Specifically, they noticed their vertigo improved.
Here at Providence Chiropractic in Edmonton, Alberta, we use a similar method to assist our Meniere’s patients in finding relief from their symptoms. The method used differs from traditional chiropractic because we do not need to crack or twist the spine to get the atlas bone to move back into place. Rather, our adjustments are based on scientific measurements and precision customizing to each patient’s needs. We encourage the bones to move back into place naturally which is better for the body than forcing them back into place. Many of our patients have reported similar positive results to those seen in the study above.