Saturday, September 12, 2009

Meniere’s Disease and Stress

In my last post I wrote about how a medication that I was taking seemed to bring on a Meniere’s attack. Of course I’m not 100 percent sure about that but I believe it did. Over the past 5 years especially the last couple of years this condition has really worn me down not only physically but also emotionally. It has really changed me and how I go about doing things. I’m careful all of the time whether I’m driving or at home I always seem to feel as though an attack is about to happen. And that is bad because I’m letting stress control me.

Earlier this year I felt like things were back to normal. No longer did I have the monkey on my back, my constant worry about my head spinning out of control, my forehead dripping with sweat and helplessness combined with rage that comes with these attacks. I though that the gent injections had finally worked and that would be that, of course it wasn’t.

As I have written over the past 6 months I started to have attacks again, not like last year but enough to make me stressful.

At least for me, stress can also be a trigger. I start to have that feeling come over me that an attack is about to happen and my stress level skyrockets. I don’t know for sure but it seems that the stress aids the meniere’s attack.

Recently I have been working on keeping my stress level down. I have had some luck controlling it and dealing with it. But sometimes it is a battle dealing with meniere’s as well as life’s other problems.

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  1. Hi David,

    Attacks are definitely stressful. Stressing about having attacks is also stressful, and I'm sure increases the likelihood of having one.
    My feeling is that the vestibular nerve is there for a reason. If you're on a high cliff, you get vertigo and your inner ear sends a message to your brain "Danger danger, get down". So your body flings itself into its most stable position - flat on the ground. Same thing on a ship - the grounds rocking back and forth (which is clearly not safe), so the inner ear fires off the same message to the brain. Same result. (Maybe the nausea and sweating are just stress-related side affects). The key point is that your brain DOESN'T HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EAR.

    I once lived in a town with a lot of thermal activity and an overpowering smell of hydrogen sulphide. At first the messages were constant:
    Nose to Brain: "OMG! This is terrible and probably life-threatening!"
    Brain to Nose: "OK, stand-by while I survey the environment with my other senses."
    Nose to Brain: "It hasn't gone away! We're all going to die!" etc etc

    But after a few weeks, it's more like:
    Nose to Brain: "Rotten eggs! Disgusting!"
    Brain to Nose: "Yeah, whatever."

    And eventually:
    Nose to Brain: "Red Alert! Gas! Gas! Gas!"
    Brain: "I wonder what's for lunch?"

    People used to say that the locals lose their sense of smell, but that's not true. Their brains just chose to stop listening to the repetitive warnings from their noses.

    So now when I'm having an attack, I just refuse to listen to Ear. "There IS no danger. The world isn't rotating (well, not THAT fast). I've taken the doctors magic pill. Everything is fine, and it will soon be all over."

    It's very effective for lessening the severity of attacks. Unfortunately it doesn't prevent the ones that ambush you...

  2. Hi,
    I also have MD. I had a shot of gentamicin in January 2009 and didn't have any attacks until July. And I've had several since. I thought I was done with them, but much to my disappointment they returned.

    I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow and am contemplating another shot. I'm very concerned about losing all the hearing in my ear. I now have some hearing and a hearing aid helps to some degree.

    I know that fatigue, stress, sodium and drops in the barometric pressure are triggers for me. I live in Florida and the summer humidity doesn't help either.

    I'm not really familiar with how blogs work. I'm commenting as anonymous, but if anyone is interested in contacting me my e-mail address is

    I'm glad to see that you are sharing your stories. Unless you have Meniere's Disease it's impossible to understand what you go through on a daily basis, just trying to maintain some sort of normalcy.

    Thanks for posting this blog. I'll figure out how to use it when the brain fog clears.


  3. David,

    I just picked up your blog this morning.. as I wait for an MRI on my left ear. I'll make this short. I'm glad to see you blogging about this and wish you the best. I've had Meniers since 1991 and have battled it on an off ever since. I'm lucky in that I don't have contant attacks. It effects people a little differently. I also had a gent shot in 2003 and was free from symptoms until 10 days ago and it's roaring back. I told my wife that although I hated the gent shot, I think without it I would be very bad today.

    Best wishes and I'll keep following along.



  4. Ed,
    I know what you mean about hating the gent injections, I had 4 of them last summer and they were awful!
    I hate to hear about your attacks coming back, it seems like the meniere's never goes away completely no matter what you do. The best I guess anyone can do is to try to control it as best as possible.
    thanks for commenting
    and keep in touch

  5. David,

    Thanks for this platform. It is good to hear from others who suffer so. Sometimes I feel like I'm on an island. I have been through 5 doctors and 4 procedures and coming up on a 5th next week, 10 Streptomycin shots, and still suffer with cronic light-headedness. I average 1 vertigo attack a week that can last up to 24 hours. This disease has completely turned my life as I knew it upside down. I have a teenager and my job is under jeopardy. These things certainly elevate my stress level, so I know where your coming from. Thanks again.


  6. Terri,
    You are not alone. There are many folks out there just like you and me who struggle with this disorder. Unfortunately most people have never heard about meniere's and they can't understand why there isn't a cure.
    I have been fortunate at my job, I signed up for the FMLA program where I can miss up to 12 weeks a year ( without pay of course ) and still keep my job. I usually miss about 2 or 3 days a month because of attacks. it is rough to lose that much money but there are days when I can hardly get out of bed.
    I know it is difficult but you have to somehow keep your spirits up, don't let this illness beat you. Hang in there.
    keep in touch and let me know how you are doing
    your friend

  7. I was diagnosed with it last week. It scares me to think that this is my life now.
    I havnt a clue about it and am only starting to learn. Been having dizzy spells pretty much everyday. I cant calm down and am due to get married in 4 weeks.
    I never knew this was a condition and the fact it cant be cured scares me to death.

  8. I hate to hear about anyone getting this condition especially a few weeks before they get married. When I was first diagnosed I was just like you I had never heard anything about meniere's disease. Try to learn as much as possible about this disorder and its important to find a doctor that you are comfortable with.
    Even though there isn't a cure there are ways to make the symptoms not as severe throught procedures, medications and even surgery that is why it is important to have find a doctor who knows all the options available.
    Good luck and keep in touch and let me know how things are going.

  9. I can agree that the stress and anxiety of a pending attack make the attack that much worse. I am presently experiencing my first ever series of cluster attacks, started 4 weeks ago. Been in hospital 5 times in all, and almost again today.
    I am lying in bed with my laptop, completely stoned on Gravol which I discovered can ironically have dizziness as a side effect. Also being tested for MS as I type this. The MS spectre has been raised off and on for the last 3 years, and is one that is too frightening to contemplate. This also adds to the overall stress of being on short term medical leave from work, stressing about parenting (I'm a single mom of a teen) etc. I wonder if anyone who writes to you David has had clustering of attacks like this? I'm worried something else might be going on besides the Meniere's.