Originally Posted by Wikipedia
The symptoms of MÃ©niÃ¨re's are variable; not all sufferers experience the same symptoms. However, so-called "classic MÃ©niÃ¨re's" is considered to comprise the following four symptoms:
Periodic episodes of rotary vertigo (the abnormal sensation of movement) or dizziness.
Fluctuating, progressive, unilateral (in one ear) or bilateral (in both ears) hearing loss, often in the lower frequency ranges.
Unilateral or bilateral tinnitus (the perception of noises, often ringing, roaring, or whooshing), sometimes variable.
A sensation of fullness or pressure in one or both ears.
MÃ©niÃ¨re's often begins with one symptom, and gradually progresses. A diagnosis may be made in the absence of all four classic symptoms.
Attacks of vertigo can be severe, incapacitating, and unpredictable. In some patients, attacks of vertigo can last for hours or days, and may be accompanied by an increase in the loudness of tinnitus and temporary hearing loss in the affected ear(s). Hearing may improve after an attack, but often becomes progressively worse. Vertigo attacks are sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sweating.
Some sufferers experience what are informally known as "drop attacks" â€” a sudden, severe attack of dizziness or vertigo that causes the sufferer, if not seated, to fall. Some patients may find it impossible to get up for some time, until the attack passes or medication takes effect. There is also the risk of injury from falling.
In addition to low frequency hearing loss, sounds can seem tinny or distorted, and patients can experience unusual sensitivity to loud noises. Some sufferers also experience nystagmus, or uncontrollable rhythmical and jerky eye movements, usually in the horizontal plane.
Other symptoms include so-called "brain fog" (temporary loss of short term memory, forgetfulness, and confusion), deafness, exhaustion and drowsiness, headaches, vision problems, and depression.
The exact cause of MÃ©niÃ¨re's disease is not known, but it is believed to be related to endolymphatic hydrops or excess fluid in the inner ear. It is thought that endolymphatic fluid bursts from its normal channels in the ear and flows into other areas causing damage. This may be related to swelling of the endolymphatic sac or other issues in the vestibular system of the inner ear, which is responsible for the body's sense of balance. The symptoms may occur in the presence of a middle ear infection, head trauma or an upper respiratory tract infection, or by using aspirin, smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. They may be further exacerbated by excessive consumption of caffeine and salt in some patients.
Initial treatment is aimed at both dealing with immediate symptoms and preventing frequency of symptoms, and so will vary from patient to patient. Doctors may recommend training or other methods for dealing with tinnitus, stress reduction, hearing aids to deal with hearing loss, and medication to alleviate nausea and symptoms of vertigo.
Several environmental and dietary changes are thought to reduce the frequency or severity of symptom outbreaks. Most patients are advised to adopt a low-sodium diet, typically one to two grams (1000-2000mg) at first, but diets as low as 400mg are not uncommon. Patients are advised to avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, all of which can aggravate symptoms of MÃ©niÃ¨re's. Some recommend avoiding Aspartame. Patients are often prescribed a mild diuretic (sometimes vitamin B6). Many patients will have allergy testing done to see if they are candidate for allergy desensitization as allergies have been shown to aggravate MÃ©niÃ¨re's symptoms.
Women may experience increased symptoms during pregnancy or shortly before menstruation, probably due to increased fluid retention.
Lipoflavanoid is also recommended for treatment by some doctors.
Many patients consider fluorescent lighting to be a trigger for symptoms. The plausibility of this can be explained by how important a part vision plays in the overall mechanism of human balance.
Treatments aimed at lowering the pressure within the inner ear include antihistamines, anticholinergics, steroids, and diuretics. A medical device that provides transtympanic micropressure pulses is now showing some promise and is becoming more widely used as a treatment for MÃ©niÃ¨re's.
Surgery of the endolymphatic sac is becoming more common in cases that don't respond to traditional medical treatments. Surgery of the semicircular canals or the vestibular nerve is very rarely performed in some untreatable and most severe cases. Another treatment is chemical labyrinthectomy, in which a drug (such as gentamicin) that "kills" the vestibular apparatus is injected into the inner ear. These radical treatments eliminate vertigo, but they also eliminate the patient's normal sense of balance, and so are used only as a last resort.