What is Meniere’s disease?
Meniere’s disease, also known as idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops, is a disorder of the inner ear that affects balance and hearing. It is characterized by episodes of vertigo (dizziness), hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and a feeling of fullness in the ear. It is believed to be caused by a problem with the pressure deep inside the ear; however, this has not yet been proven. It was first described by a French physician, Dr. Prosper Meniere, in 1861.
Meniere’s disease can occur at any age, but it most commonly affects people aged 40-60 years. Sometimes, there may be a family history of the disease. The condition affects people differently; its intensity can range from being a mild annoyance to a chronic, lifelong disability.
What can cause Meniere’s disease?
The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is not yet known. It is thought to be caused by an increase in the pressure of the fluid contained in the tiny labyrinth, a part of the inner ear. Our inner ear contains a fluid that helps us to maintain our balance and equilibrium. Within the cochlea there are two types of fluid separated by membranes: endolymph (rich in potassium) and perilymph (rich in sodium). In Meniere’s disease there is too much endolymph fluid in the inner ear. The excess of endolymph can disturbs the structure and function of the inner ear which result in symptoms such as vertigo and tinnitus.
In most cases, the cause of the fluid pressure change is unknown, but there are a number of possible risk factors, including:
- Genetic (inherited) factors
- Allergic responses
- Auto-immune reactions
- Autonomic nervous system imbalances
- Vascular (circulation) irregularities
- Blockages and/or damage to the endolymphatic structures, causing improper fluid drainage
- Dietary imbalance
- Viral infections such as meningitis
Symptoms of Meniere’s disease
The excess fluid disturbs the inner ear’s balance and hearing mechanisms and produces a range of symptoms. Typical symptoms of Meniere’s disease include:
- Episodic vertigo – an intense sense of spinning that can range from mild to severe, and a feeling of the room ‘spinning round’ is often described. The attacks are rotational and the duration of each episode is usually more than 20 minutes.
- Increasing deafness – hearing loss that becomes worse during attacks. Hearing may fail to recover fully and deteriorate over time, often leading to permanent hearing disability or total hearing loss. Usually only one ear is affected, however the longer the condition lasts the higher the chance the other ear will also become affected
- Tinnitus – ringing or roaring noise in the ears (typically a low tone). The symptom is usually more noticeable when you are tired or when it is quiet.
These symptoms are distressing and can make life very miserable for those affected. They may not occur all at once. As Meniere’s disease progresses, the mix, severity and duration of symptoms tends to change. Attacks tend to occur in clusters with periods of remission. They may occur every week or even every few days. They usually last a few hours and are often associated with other symptoms such as sweating, weakness, faintness, nausea, vomiting, and a sensation of fullness or pressure in the affected ear.
How TCM may help
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Meniere’s disease is classified as “xuan yun” or vertigo, a type of dizziness. Various important lifestyle factors such as emotional stress, overwork and improper diet can lead to health disorders, and contribute to the development of chronic conditions such as Meniere’s disease.
From the perspective of TCM, Meniere’s disease is attributed to spleen and kidney Yang deficiency, causing phlegm and dampness obstruction. This causes the vertigo, along with symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Liver and kidney Yin deficiency also causes liver wind to ascend or liver yang hyperactivity, and as a result causes vertigo, dizziness, headache, blurred vision and tinnitus.
How we can help
The main benefits of his may treatment include:
- Relief of vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss and other symptoms
- Stabilisation and promotion of a better cooperation between the circulatory system, nervous system and immune system, in order to prevent reoccurrences of Meniere’s disease
- Specific treatments tailored to the nature of the individual’s condition, his/her bodily constitution, and medical history
- Use of all natural herbs, free of chemical additives, GM ingredients and preservatives
Book your appointment today
We are dedicated to helping you achieve the health and wellness that you desire. If you are interested, feel free to call us at our Frankston clinic on 9785 6688, or our Murrumbeena clinic on 9041 8879 to book an appointment today.