Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that impacts your hearing and balance. It is most often known for:
- Vertigo — a spinning sensation of yourself or the things around you
- Tinnitus — a roaring or ringing noise in the ears
- A feeling of congestion in the affected ear
- Fluctuating and progressive hearing loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to complete daily activities
Meniere’s attacks can last for a few hours. It is possibly triggered by:
- Increased stress
- Dietary factors
- Emotional distress
Meniere’s disease seems to occur all of a sudden and can be very unpredictable. You may experience a cluster of attacks within a short period of time and then not see them again for a long time. You may even go years without an attack.
Meniere’s disease often comes about during mid-life, usually around age 40 or 50. It is not seen often in children or young adults. Mostly, only one ear is affected, but as the condition progresses, it may affect the other ear over time. In the early stages of the disease, many people will not experience any symptoms in between episodes. As the condition goes on, some will begin having ongoing issues with tinnitus, feeling off balance, and feeling congestion in the ears. Permanent hearing loss may eventually develop, too.
Meniere’s disease varies among different locations and ethnic groups. It is seen more often in people of European descent. In the USA, approximately 615,000 people have Meniere’s disease, while more than 45,000 new cases are diagnosed yearly. Other sources say that as many as 3-5 million are affected.
Is Meniere’s Disease Hereditary?
In most instances, Meniere’s disease is sporadic. In other words, it occurs in people with no family history of the disorder. There is a small percent of cases that seem to run in families. When the condition is familial, it has an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. This means there is a copy of an altered gene in each cell. Therefore, the risk of the disorder occurring increases.
New Research Points to a Cause of Meniere’s Disease
Up to this point, the reason for Meniere’s has gone undiscovered, and no one has been able to understand the signs and symptoms and why they occur. New research conducted at the Colorado School of Medicine indicates a possible cure for Meniere’s disease is close to being revealed. Carol Foster, MD, (Department of Otolaryngology) and Robert Breeze, MD, (neurosurgeon) report that a strong link is being seen between conditions that temporarily decrease blood flow to the brain and Meniere’s disease.
Foster goes on to explain episodes of Meniere’s may be caused by a malformation of the inner ear (endolymphatic hydrops) and vascular disease risk factors in the brain, such as sleep apnea and migraines. The hypothesis has to do with caring for the vascular risk factors to allow symptoms to be controlled better. This decreases the need for surgery that impedes the balance system so as to stop the episodes of Meniere’s. If the attacks of Meniere’s are able to be controlled, then hearing loss may be able to be prevented.
The researchers found the fluid buildup in the inner ear can cause the pressure regulation process to malfunction and can lead to a decrease in the flow of blood in the inner ear. Combining this with vascular disease that also constricts blood flow to the brain and ear, it can be likened to a mini-stroke or transient ischemic attacks in the brain. These may occur in the sensory tissues of the inner ear. If the tissues of the ear do not get any blood, they stop sending signals to the brain, leading to such conditions as Meniere’s disease, vertigo, hearing loss, and tinnitus.
Since up to this point, no theories about Meniere’s has been proven true, there is no successful way to care for it. If this theory is proven to be right, it would open up the doors for doctors to become better able to help this condition.
Finding Help for Meniere’s Disease Through Natural Means
Upper cervical chiropractors have known for a long time now that restricted blood flow to the brain can cause a number of health problems. We also understand how a misalignment in the top bones of the neck can be to blame for this problem. The C1 and C2 vertebrae are specially designed to protect the brainstem. They also allow the head to have a great range of mobility making them more susceptible to misaligning than the other vertebrae in the spinal column. A simple trip and fall, a blow to the head or neck, a vehicle accident, or sporting accident can all be reasons for these bones to move out of place. When that happens, they begin to exert pressure on the brainstem. This can lead to the following problems:
- The brainstem begins to send improper signals to the brain. This can result in the ears not draining properly or the wrong signals being sent about the location of the body in its environment, causing vertigo.
- The misalignment acts as a blockage of sorts to the flow of blood going to the brain, leading to vascular disease and the conditions that go along with it.
Here at Zehr Chiropractic in North Shores, Michigan we use a gentle method to help these bones move back into proper alignment. Rather than methods used by traditional chiropractors of popping and cracking the spine, we use a mild realignment process that allows the bones to reposition themselves naturally. This is often all that is needed to help restore proper blood flow and see some relief from the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.