If you’re prone to experiencing dizzy spells, it may be a sign of an inner ear disorder called Meniere’s disease. Named for the French physician Prosper Ménière, who, in an article published in 1861, first reported that vertigo was caused by inner ear disorders, the condition can cause any of these primary symptoms:
- Vertigo: Spontaneous and recurring episodes of vertigo, a sensation similar to that of spinning around quickly several times, then stopping suddenly, are a common and troubling symptom of Meniere’s Disease. You may feel as if the room is still spinning and possibly lose your balance. These episodes come on without warning and typically last between 20 minutes and two hours, though they can persist up to 24 hours. Severe vertigo can cause nausea and vomiting.
- Hearing loss: In the early stages of the disease, hearing loss may fluctuate. But most victims eventually experience some degree of permanent hearing loss.
- Tinnitus: Tinnitus is the perception of a ringing, buzzing, roaring, whistling or hissing sound in your ear.
- Fullness or pressure: Those with Meniere’s disease often feel aural fullness or increased pressure in the ear.
Meniere’s Disease is thought to be caused by an imbalance of the volume, pressure and chemical composition of fluid in the ear. Factors that can alter the properties of inner ear fluid and may trigger the disease include migraine headaches, trauma to the head, allergies, an abnormal immune response, a viral infection or improper fluid draining, typically caused by a blockage or anatomic abnormality.
Of all the symptoms, vertigo arguably is the most debilitating, as it can cause a victim to lose time from work, family, social and other obligations. It also boosts the risk of potentially dangerous falls, accidents while driving or operating heavy machinery and bouts of emotional stress, depression or anxiety.
Meniere’s Disease primarily affects people in their 40s and 50s, but it can strike at any age, even during childhood. Although it’s considered a chronic disease, it can be treated. Specialists at St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat can develop a customized treatment plan designed to relieve symptoms and minimize long-term impact of the condition on your daily life. If you or your dependent suffer any of the symptoms men tioned, call 904-461-6060 and schedule a consultation.