Meniere's disease affects the inner ear, impacting hearing ability and balance in most instances. The severity and specific manifestation of the condition vary from case to case. Though it has no cure, treatments and lifestyle modifications may prevent frequent recurrence of discomforting flares-ups. Because of this, early detection can seriously help those with the condition. Diagnosing Meniere's disease is often difficult because the condition causes symptoms common to many disorders. As such, doctors first rule out other conditions through various tests.
Those with Meniere's disease typically have rotational vertigo that occurs with no warning. These episodes of dizziness and bodily imbalance range from mild to severe and last anywhere from a few minutes to a full day. Due to this, patients sometimes risk injuries from sudden falls.
Meniere's disease can also cause hearing loss, especially of lower decibels. This makes the condition different from several others, including noise-induced hearing loss from natural aging, which generally affects audibility of higher pitches. People with Meniere's may have hearing loss in one or both ears at different stages of the disease. Often, temporary hearing loss happens with episodes of vertigo. In general, hearing ability tends to decrease gradually as the disease progresses. Most people eventually have some degree of permanent hearing loss.
Those with Meniere's disease often complain of a feeling of fullness in their ears, medically known as aural fullness. They compare this sensation to wearing earplugs. This occurs due to changes in fluid pressure in the inner ear. This aural fullness may occur at random or before, during, or after a flare-up and usually affects one ear, not both.
Tinnitus refers to ringing, buzzing, or roaring sounds in the ears, and usually affects one side only. One of the more unpleasant Meniere's disease symptoms, tinnitus comes and goes at random. However, it often causes a lot of discomfort. Because the sound comes from within the ear, only those with the condition can hear it. In severe cases, tinnitus can be distracting or even debilitating. Due to this, it may disturb concentration, rest, and sleep.
Drop attacks are fast falls that happen without passing out, and they mostly feel like being pushed to the floor from behind. In many cases, people with Meniere's who experience drop attacks get up afterward without feeling discomfort. This symptom is more common in advanced stages, and affects fewer than ten percent of people with the disease.
Some studies show that around one-third of people with Meniere's disease have migraine headaches. Scientists haven't yet established a link between the two, though it is possible a correlation exists. Fortunately, suitable migraine medication helps provide relief to those with this symptom, most of the time.
Some individuals also feel nauseous during vertigo attacks, especially long or severe ones. The constant dizziness causes digestive issues and the urge to vomit. However, not everyone has nausea or vomiting since it is usually a by-product of vertigo itself, which does not affect every person with Meniere's.
Excessive and unprecedented sweating may occur, usually due to vertigo and not Meniere's itself, though cold sweats are associated with palpitations and rapid pulse, as well. As vertigo subsides, the sweating should also ease.
Before or during vertigo attacks, some people with Meniere's disease have irregular heartbeats or heart palpitations. Researchers are unsure why these symptoms tend to accompany attacks. Fortunately, this is one symptom that generally occurs only in advanced stages and is not experienced by every individual. Like nausea and sweating, the heartbeat usually returns to normal as vertigo subsides.
Some people with Meniere's disease develop sound sensitivity -- certain noises begin to cause ear pain. High-frequency sounds are the most common triggers, though in some cases, soft noises at certain pitches can also bring discomfort. Sound sensitivity is one of the more common warning signs of the condition, as it is more specific than symptoms like nausea and vertigo.
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