Managing Ménière’s Disease
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 615,000 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease, with nearly 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Unfortunately, no cure has been identified for Ménière’s disease, but certain lifestyle modifications have been shown to reduce symptoms.
What Is Ménière’s Disease?
Ménière’s disease is a chronic health condition that causes spells of dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo (feeling of movement/spinning) and pain/pressure in the ears. In addition to these symptoms, Ménière’s attacks are associated with nausea, anxiety and rapid eye movement.
Attacks can come on suddenly and occur as much as daily or as little as every few years. Unfortunately, Ménière’s attacks tend to get worse and worse over time, with permanent hearing loss as a possibility.
How Can Ménière’s Be Managed?
There are many strategies that can help prevent episodes of Ménière’s symptoms.
Avoid Certain Substances
Caffeine narrows blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the inner ear. Avoid coffee, energy drinks, soda and chocolate.
Alcohol disrupts your sense of balance and triggers feelings of dizziness and vertigo.
Tobacco smoke affects your circulation and blood flow to the inner ear. Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke to prevent a Ménière’s attack.
Sodium causes the body to retain water, increasing pressure in your ears. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2300 mg of sodium a day, and ideally one should target closer to 1500 mg per day.
Maintain Healthy Habits
Don’t underestimate the value of a healthy sleeping schedule and regular exercise. Better cardiovascular health means improved circulation and less pressure in your ears.
Monitor Your Triggers
Nobody knows your body better than you do. People with Ménière’s experience a variety of triggers, including bright lights, loud noises or low frequency sounds. When you experience a Ménière’s attack, pay attention to your environment and monitor possible triggers.
Talk to Your Provider
Remember, you’re not alone. While there is no cure for Ménière’s disease right now, researchers are looking into how stress management, steroid use, imaging practices and surgical approaches can help curb symptoms. Talk to your provider to learn more about how you can best manage Ménière’s disease.