Breaking through the mis-information and mis-perceptions of Meniere's
Breaking through the mis-information and mis-perceptions of Meniere's
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Here we will explain the basics of Meniere’s Disease and give you some insight as to what it means for the sufferer.
Firstly this condition is not technically a disease in the same perception we have as for more defined conditions such as cancer or heart disease. Rather it is a name given to a set of symptoms that the medical community claims the origin of which is unknown. This is what is known as an 'idiopathic' condition. A medical dictionary would define this as 'self originated' or of an 'unknown cause'.
Of course by very definition if you find the cause of your symptoms then it is no longer considered "Meniere's". Therein lies the problem. They say there is no cure for Meniere's because the origin is unknown; they don't know the cause.
Everything has a cause and the very reason they say they don't know the cause is because once you find it, in their thinking or linguistic terminology and reasoning it is not Meniere's, As we know that it is a law of nature that everything has a cause and once you find your cause and cure yourself they simply say it wasn't Meniere's because that fits into the definition of Meniere's.
So if you understand this, it is only considered Meniere's, when they haven't found the cause, but that does not mean there is no cause. And more importantly it doesn't mean you can not find your cause and deal with it. It is just a matter of finding that cause or causes and dealing with it accordingly. Click here to learn more about the causes of your Meniere's symptoms and click here to find out more about your Meniere's triggers. You can read a discussion on cures of Meniere's symptoms here
The general perception is that the cause is unknown, but as stated above, this is very deceptive and if we are honest not the whole truth of the matter. The genral perception is also that "Meniere's" is a degenerative condition, meaning it gets worse with time. They even talk about it terms of "early stages" or "latter stages" of the degenrative state of a Meniere's patient.
If think through this deeply enough, the symptoms you are experiencing are a result of something causing the problem. So the longer that cause goes not searched for, undetected and not dealt with the more damage it is having on the affected ear. Meniere's is not some degenerative "disease" that is un-stoppable and just to be accepted and the symptoms to be treated as best we can.
Sufferers are often anxious to get a real diagnosis and have explained what “Disease” it is they have. It is not a disease. Meniere’s is just a name given to a set of symptoms your doctors don’t know the original cause of: An idiopathic condition. There are many possibilities as to the original cause or causes that are triggering inflammation within the inner ear and the consequent build up of fluid.
They only refer to it as “Meniere’s Disease” or “Meniere’s Syndrome” once they have ruled out other more sinister possibilities such as a tumor. These checks are rather shallow and short reaching to say the least. Blood tests, CT scans, an MRI and audiology tests. Amongst a few other things the blood test may include checking for auto-immune traces and evidence of the herpes virus. The MRI and CT scans are to discount the presence of a tumor.
These checks are rather shallow and short reaching to say the least. Blood tests, CT scans, an MRI and audiology tests. Amongst a few other things the blood test may include checking for auto-immune traces and evidence of the herpes virus. The MRI and CT scans are to discount the presence of a tumor.
So if the doctors' guidelines and instructions for checks related to Meniere's are so limited and you end up "diagnosed" with this, then you have to take things into your own hands to get checked for the many other real possible causes of your symptoms.
The name "Meniere's" comes from Prosper Ménière, the physician-in-chief at the Institute for deaf-mutes in Paris in the 1800's
Meniere’s is described by the medical community as a disorder of the inner ear. But that may not be where the origin of the cause is. The underlying cause may be in one of several other parts of the body that results in the symptoms showing up in the ear as the end result of a knock on effect.
It is believed that a build up of fluid puts pressure on the hearing and balance nerves. The fluid gathers in the 'endolymphatic sac' at the end of the labyrinth that is the inner ear. The sac balloons, which results in the pressure on the nerves. You may hear this referred to as 'endolymphatic hydrops'.
We sometimes have people contacting us stating that they have been diagnosed or think they have “hydrops”. You have to understand that hyrops is just another term for edema or in more simple language inflammation or swelling.
So when your doctor talks about hydrops, he is simply telling you that you have swelling in your inner ear. The definition of hydrops is: “edema: swelling from excessive accumulation of watery fluid in cells, tissues, or serous cavities”
We have such cavities within our ears.
So when you see or hear these terms, “endolymphatic hydrops” or “secondary endolymphatic hydrops” and feel in awe, afraid or confused by this medical jargon, please understand the simple explanation is: you have inflammation (or swelling) inside your inner ear.
The inflammation process is a natural biological reaction from your body’s immune system to any disturbance in an area that needs help from the immune system. Under normal circumstances the immune system send its agents to deal with pathogens disturbing whatever part of the body is being attacked or disturbed, there is some swelling (as in when you have a bruise for example), as a surge in oxidation takes place as a result of the frantic activity of your inner defenders and all the excess energy produced (like a fire spitting out sparks) then your body’s supply of antoxidants cleans up the mess and gets that part of the body back to normal as your new cells are regenerated healthily.
In medicine, there is a term called ‘silent inflammation’. This is when the inflammation process goes on for over-extended periods of time without being detected. The body’s supply of antioxidants cannot keep up with the demand and it starts getting messy in there. This is how degenerative diseases and conditions occur. Your body is losing the inner battle and the inflammation becomes chronic.
Studies have shown that systematic inflammation is involved in at least 22 serious health conditions, from heart attacks to arthritis, diabetes to Parkinson’s disease.
What we need to look at is A. What is the source of this resulting inflammation and B. How can we make sure the body can keep up with the demand for antioxidants needed.
In terms of B. This would explain why using high quality supplementation, which provides potent antioxidants helps the Meniere’s sufferer keep the symptoms at bay. It doesn’t address the underlying cause but it does deal with the resulting cause of the symptoms. It reduces or stops the inflammation occurring. It strengthens your immune system and makes it more efficient.
You can read more about the inflammation process here and more on the use of supplementation here.
The theories as to the cause of Meniere’s and the focus of scientific investigation include possibilities such as noise pollution, viral infections, middle ear infections, head injuries, syphilis, bacterial infections, stress, fatigue, alcohol, smoking and allergies.
The list of possible underlying causes is much bigger than this however and something we have spent a great deal of time on over the past 10 years. Learn more here: Managing Meniere's.
None of these have been clinically proven yet. Though there is strong evidence and proven statistics in some areas that at least some of these are either underlying causes or contributing triggers. One of the problems is that everyone is looking for a definitive answer as to what is the cause. One single cause, when clearly there are many candidates. What may be causing the symptoms in one person may be very different in the next.
There are many other possible ‘triggers' that seem to have a common theme among sufferers. (see the Meniere's ‘Triggers’ page)
What does all this mean for the actual sufferer? Well, this condition is not fatal, nor is it contagious. It is a chronic condition however. It seems to affect everyone slightly differently and can range from troublesome at best to totally debilitating and terrifying at worst. Some people only experience one or two symptoms; others the whole lot.
If there is such a thing, classic symptoms of Meniere’s disease include: fullness in the ear, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness, vertigo (shocking abnormal sense of movement, usually spinning uncontrollably) and hearing loss.
Most medical websites and the countless sites full of copied material quote the accepted “triad of symptoms”: dizziness, tinnitus and hearing loss.
That hardly paints the full picture though, as anyone who suffers with the full blown symptoms of Meniere’s can testify.
Meniere’s sufferers will talk about brain fog, disorientation, confusion, inability to concentrate, sudden exhaustion, light sensitivity and noise sensitivity. It is a very lonely condition to have to live with and can lead to depression and a sense of hopelessness. Suicides are not unheard of, which is a crime when we now know how you can find your cause and deal with it, or at the very least control the symptoms with dietary manipulation, lifestyle changes and the use of supplementation.
A bout of vertigo can lead to severe exhaustion and the sufferer can be incapacitated for the rest of the day afterwards, sometimes longer. This makes holding down a job very difficult and people often find themselves having to give up work altogether. Some are even afraid to go out of the house alone for fear of what may happen. Even the lights and aisles of the supermarket may spark attacks. It is a miserable existence.
Anybody can get Meniere's, male or female, young children to old age pensioners. The general consensus is that the largest demographic of sufferers is middle aged people. One explanation for this is might be that whatever is causing the silent inflammation has had time to build up and tire the immune system out.
Existing mainstay treatments vary from drugs like antihistamines, anticholinergics, sedatives, anti-emetic agents, diazapam or diuretics, to surgery like endolymphatic shunt implants, vestibular nerve sections and various steroid injections into the ear.
All of these are designed to try and relieve symptoms. They are not cures. They do not tackle the root cause and none of them have a particularly good track record when it comes to success. There are one or two prosthetics in the works and in the summer of 2013 UFC President Dana White famously traveled to Germany and had stem cell treatment and declared himself "cured".
If he no longer has the symptoms then you can say he is indeed cured. That said though, again it is not dealing with the underlying cause. The introduction of stem cells into his affected ear has taken care of the inflammation but if say, for example his underlying cause was muscular skeletal in origin due to his old profession of being a fighter then and that problem has not been addressed, then it is possible that over time the problem will build up and eventually flare up again when the inflammation is a big enough problem to cause a return of his symptoms. Only time will tell with this. Read more on stem cell treatment on the "Treatments" page and watch the Dana White news conference here.
The bottom line is, despite your symptoms being so hard to deal with and despite the mainstream medical community’s very narrow view on how to deal with this, you can find your cause, you can deal with your triggers, you can keep the symptoms away or you can deal with cause and never have to worry about it again.
You need to educate yourself with the true knowledge of this and take action yourself. Why? Because if your doctor has told you, there is nothing more to be done then you must take things into your own hands and not rely on such narrow perceptions to help you. Read about the findings we have recorded after 10 years of support work and over 7 years of research and study into underlying causes of Meniere's and contributing triggers. You do not have to live with Meniere’s disease.