Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Meniere’s Discovery and Treatment

Like this woman on a tightrope, treating Meniere's is a balancing act.

Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can leave those afflicted battling vertigo so severe they can end up wheelchair bound. Meniere’s disease has long been considered a mysterious condition, as the exact reasons for it were unknown. Now, new research is leading to answers and hopes for better treatment.

Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine have developed new theories based on research as to the cause of Meniere’s. They have discovered that there is a connection between Meniere’s and decreased blood flow in the brain. The slowing of blood flow could mean fewer nutrients to the ear and this can lead to atrophy and destruction of the auditory hair cells and permanent hearing loss. This important new discovery may lead to new treatments.

Researcher Dr. Carol Foster is quoted in an article on Science Daily as saying, "If our hypothesis is confirmed, treatment of vascular risk factors may allow control of symptoms and result in a decreased need for surgeries that destroy the balance function in order to control the spell" said Foster. "If attacks are controlled, the previously inevitable progression to severe hearing loss may be preventable in some cases."

The symptoms of Meniere’s can be debilitating, and treatments have been quite diverse, because lack of knowledge on what caused the condition meant a hit or miss approach. Many with Meniere's have experienced the frustration of multiple trial and error treatments.

Current treatments for Meniere’s include the following:

Avoidance: Avoiding salt, alcohol, nicotine, and stress either in conjunction or alone. Some people have different “triggers” that begin an episode of Meniere’s. It is wise to keep a journal and mark down events and foods consumed before attacks. In this way, a history can provide a common denominator.

Alternative Remedies: Herbs, vitamins, chiropractors, and acupuncture have been reported by some individuals to help relieve symptoms. Whenever trying alternative remedies it's important to thoroughly research treatments and practitioners.

Because of the individualized nature of Meniere’s many important treatments may need to be tested before relief is found.

Diuretics: It is thought that the build up of liquid within the inner ear contributes to this disease. Use of diuretics have been shown to help in a small number of people. Use of diuretics depletes certain nutrients in the body. Speak to your doctor about what supplements to take to regulate depleted nutrients.

Medications: Motions sickness medicines, anti-nausea medicines have been shown to help with certain aspects of this condition.

Surgery: Surgery has been effective in helping reduces symptoms of Mniere's disease. As important as this treatment is for those that struggle with this condition, it should be noted that surgeries can impact hearing, creating greater hearing loss. Surgeries include: cutting the nerve that regulates balance in ear (Vestibular nerve section), decreasing fluid production (Endolpymphatic sac procedure), removal of section or entire inner ear (Labryinthectomy).

Middle Ear Injections (Gentamicin and steroids): Getamicin is injected into the ear in low or high doses in order to impede the balance function of that ear, allowing the other ear to take over. Problems include risk of hearing loss and risk of the other ear developing Meniere’s. Likewise, steroids are injected within the ear. It has been reported to have less impact on the condition, but is also thought to have less risk for hearing.

Hearing Aids: Hearing loss and tinnitus associated with Meniere’s have both been shown to be lessened with the use of hearing instruments. Treating the hearing loss associated with Meniere's is important, because hearing loss will worsen over time and because treating it may help prevent other conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia. Speak with a certified hearing health professional to find out the options that are best suited for your particular condition.

Meniett Device: Prescribed by doctors, the Meniett treatment can be used several times a day to put micro-pressure pulses on the middle ear. A minimally invasive surgery is required to insert a small tube in the ear drum that allows the pulses to be received deep within the inner ear. Testing has shown that this device can help regulate fluid exchange thereby lessening the vertigo associated with Meniere’s.

This latest research could narrow down the cause and treatments for this condition, leading to relief for those who suffer from this condition. Because of the complicated nature of this condition and the need for a series of treatments, patients need to work with a hearing health professional. to find the corrective treatment that is best suited for them. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

University of Colorado Denver (2013, December 6). Researchers may have discovered a plan to disable Meniere's disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2013/12/131206163057.htm

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