Sudden dizziness can be harmless. However, if it occurs repeatedly and is accompanied by other symptoms, Meniere’s disease should be considered.
What is Meniere’s disease?
Meniere’s disease, also known as Meniere’s disease, is a disease of the inner ear. It manifests itself in dizzy spells that last between 20 minutes and several hours.
These can lead to severe nausea followed by vomiting. There is also a reduction in the ability to hear in one ear and a feeling of pressure and ringing in the ears or ringing in the ears similar to tinnitus. Sometimes both ears can be affected. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Meniere’s Disease.
Drop attacks are a special form of the disease. Here the dizziness of Meniere’s disease is so pronounced that the patient loses orientation in space and can fall heavily as a result.
The causes of Meniere’s disease are largely unknown. However, the disease, which was described by the French doctor Prosper Menière at the beginning of the 19th century and is named after him, occurs more frequently in affected families, so that the assumption that certain deviations in the shape of the auditory canals, vestibular system and cochlea are inherited favors the disease.
It is believed that Meniere’s disease is caused by a change in the fluid balance in the inner ear. The inner ear, in turn, consists of the organ of balance and the cochlea, which are connected to each other via canals. These channels contain the fluids endolymph and perilymph, which differ in their salt content.
In Meniere’s disease, too much endolymph accumulates in the cochlea. It is not known whether this fluid is insufficiently absorbed by the body or whether too much is simply formed.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Meniere’s disease manifests itself in several symptoms that occur in attacks. Typically, the first attacks occur at night or in the morning. The most significant sign is dizziness. It comes suddenly and completely without warning. It can only last a few minutes, but occasionally it can last up to several hours or days.
The affected person feels as if they are standing on a turntable and perceives their surroundings as rotating quickly. This can lead to nausea and vomiting. It often gets so bad that the patient has to lie down. This is accompanied by ringing in the ears and an uncomfortable pressure in the ear at the beginning of the attack, accompanied by hearing loss for low and medium-high tones.
Often only one ear is affected at first, and as the attack progresses, the symptoms spread to the other ear. The symptoms of the disease recur at different intervals. There may be days, weeks, months, or even years between attacks.
Sometimes there are several flare-ups in quick succession, followed by longer periods without symptoms. Stress can increase the frequency of seizures. During a Meniere’s attack, patients are usually pale and may sweat profusely. Uncontrolled eye trembling (nystagmus) also occurs in some cases.
Diagnosis & History
Meniere ‘s disease is generally diagnosed by the otolaryngologist. Important clues are the symptoms that have occurred, such as ringing in the ears and a feeling of pressure, as well as dizzy spells, which are typically described by the patient as “as if the ground were shaking” or “the environment is turning”.
In addition, hearing impairment or hearing loss, especially in the low-frequency range, is determined by means of a hearing test. A special pair of glasses, the Frenzel glasses, can be used to determine whether the patient is suffering from trembling of the eyes.
The tremors often make it impossible to focus on a fixed point in space, increasing the dizziness.
The diagnosis of Meniere’s disease is confirmed when at least two attacks of dizziness have occurred in addition to the other symptoms.
The ringing in the ears and the feeling of pressure may persist beyond the seizures and worsen after each seizure. Hearing also deteriorates in Meniere’s disease to the point of complete deafness of the ear.
Meniere’s disease usually causes those affected to suffer from dizziness, which occurs permanently. This can also lead to headaches and impaired coordination and concentration. In general, the patient’s quality of life is significantly reduced and restricted by Meniere’s disease. It also progresses to pallor and imbalance or anxiety.
It is not uncommon for those affected to suffer from tinnitus or strong and loud noises in their ears. However, without treatment, hearing loss and, in the worst case, deafness can also occur. It is not uncommon for those affected to sweat excessively and their everyday life is severely restricted by the symptoms. The dizziness itself can also lead to vomiting or nausea.
Meniere’s disease is usually treated with bed rest and various medications. There are no particular complications or discomfort. In some cases, however, those affected are dependent on a hearing aid. Life expectancy is not affected by Meniere’s disease in most cases.
When should you go to the doctor?
Meniere’s disease is characterized by recurrent dizziness. If the person affected repeatedly suffers from incomprehensible dizziness, he should consult a doctor. If the symptoms lead to unsteady gait, general motor disorders or if the risk of injury and accidents increases, a doctor is needed. If the symptoms increase in intensity or occur at shorter and shorter intervals, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. In many cases, recurring dizziness that only lasts for a few minutes is underestimated.
Despite the apparently minor or only short-term impairments of the person concerned, a check-up by a doctor is urgently recommended. Nausea and vomiting are further signs of an existing health disorder. If there are balance problems or hearing dysfunctions, a doctor is needed. Ringing in the ears, a feeling of pressure in the ear or reduced hearing should be examined and treated. If the person concerned suffers from emotional or physical stress, an increase in symptoms can be expected. Therefore, accompanying psychological support is often helpful to alleviate the overall intensity of the symptoms. A doctor should also be consulted if the eyelids continue to tremble, if you feel nervous or restless. for headaches,
Treatment & Therapy
The first step in treating Meniere’s disease is to find effective medications to dampen the patient’s seizures. These include medicines for nausea and vomiting. There are also medications available that also have an effect on the balance organ. Which drugs are effective must be tried out individually.
During an attack, the patient should stay in bed if possible in order to protect the organ of equilibrium and to avoid a fall. In the case of acute attacks, an improvement can be achieved with infusions that stimulate the blood flow to the inner ear. Due to the increasing impairment of hearing ability, the fitting of a hearing aid becomes necessary.
If the dizzy spells become unbearable and none of the medications provide sufficient relief, surgery can be performed to relieve the symptoms. During the saccotomy, the inner ear is opened to drain the fluid to the outside. In addition, there are other interventions in Meniere’s disease, but these are rarely performed or only performed after the patient is completely deaf.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of Meniere’s disease is favorable in most patients. When medical care is sought, drug treatment is initiated. In many cases, this can already lead to freedom from symptoms. Nevertheless, discontinuing the medication can lead to a renewed development of health irregularities at any time. It is therefore necessary to examine individually how the further course will develop or whether long-term therapy is absolutely necessary.
Surgery is performed in some patients. In this, the functional activity of the ear is optimized and thus the ability to hear is improved. This procedure is associated with risks and, in the event of malfunctions or complications, can lead to long-term health impairments. In the case of an unfavorable course of the disease, there is a loss of hearing. Without medical treatment, the risk of accidents increases and deafness can also occur. In one treatment, hearing is significantly improved through the use of a hearing aid.
When making the prognosis, it must be taken into account that due to the adversities and stresses of the disease in everyday life, the risk of developing a secondary disease is increased. Patients often suffer from a mental illness in the further course. This has a significant impact on quality of life and can lead to a significant deterioration in general health.
There is no active prevention of Meniere’s disease due to the unknown cause of the disease. Affected patients can only reduce the severity of their seizures by immediately taking medication to reduce dizziness and nausea and vomiting. In addition, coffee, nicotine and alcohol as well as too much salt should be avoided if possible in order not to provoke attacks of Meniere’s disease.
Meniere’s disease causes various complications and discomfort in the sufferer and therefore must be treated and examined by a doctor in any case. Early detection and treatment of the disease has a very positive effect on the further course, so that the affected person should contact a doctor as soon as the first symptoms appear. As a rule, Meniere’s disease cannot heal on its own.
In most cases, those affected suffer from severe dizziness. This occurs for no particular reason and often does not go away on its own. Furthermore, it can also lead to vomiting or severe nausea, so that the quality of life of those affected is generally significantly reduced. In many cases, the disease also leads to hearing loss, so that children in particular suffer from developmental problems.
The development itself is slowed down, so that the child later suffers from deficits and intellectual problems. The symptoms can occur above all in stressful situations and often lead to depression or other mental upsets. As a rule, however, the life expectancy of those affected is not reduced by this disease.
You can do that yourself
In the case of Meniere’s disease, those affected have various options for self-help. As a rule, stimulants such as alcohol, coffee or nicotine should be avoided in order not to provoke dizzy spells. High-salt foods can also have a negative effect on the course of the disease and should also be avoided.
In the case of an acute attack, the symptoms can be relieved with the help of medication. It makes sense to have these medications on hand at all times. If the person concerned loses consciousness due to Meniere’s disease, an ambulance must be called. Until the arrival of the emergency doctor, the affected person’s breathing should be checked and the patient placed in a stable side alga. If you have hearing problems, wearing a hearing aid is a good idea. This can prevent another sudden hearing loss from loud noises. Furthermore, calm and even breathing in stressful situations has a very positive effect on the disease. However, strenuous and stressful situations should generally be avoided.
In the event of an acute attack, the person affected should lie down and calm down. A massage of the head or temples can also combat nausea or dizziness.