Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Migraines and Meniere's Disease MAV

Everyone seems to think migraines are just very bad headaches but they are more than that. Migraines are a throbbing pain, sometimes severe enough to leave you unable to continue your daily function. Some migraine suffers also have what is called an aura. With an aura you may experience shining lights in your vision or blind spots. You may also see zigzag lines in your field of vision.
Before a migraine you may have a craving for sweets, drowsiness or depression. Migraines can last for a few hours to a few days.
What is the connection with Meniere’s disease? It is reported that almost half of the MM patients will have migraines. And migraines are also common with motion sickness which is certainly common with inner ear disorders.
Fortunately migraines can be treated with medication such as tripans which are used with severe cases of Migraines. Ibuprofen can help relieve minor cases of migraines.
For further information about migraines go to the Mayo Clinic web site.

I would love to hear any comments about the connection between migraines and Meniere’s disease. Fortunately I haven’t had any migraines (yet) with my MM.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Traveling and Meniere's Disease

There is always the worry when you travel and have Meniere’s disease. Whether by car, boat or plane something can go wrong. It doesn’t all have to do with motion either.

When I am traveling by car even short distances I always have this feeling that I am going to have an attack, because I have had 2 major attacks while driving. I haven’t had any attacks lately but I still worry about it. I think in my own case the anxiety of worrying about an attack stressed me out so much that it causes me to become dizzy. I have been told that with Meniere’s disease unlike vertigo sudden motion doesn’t cause an attack. I really don’t know if I believe that completely. I have had the tests to see if I had vertigo and I don’t. One of the tests had the doctor jerk my head to the side and see if my eyes had any movement. But I know there are times when I move my head too quickly I will become dizzy.

Traveling by plane doesn’t bother me. I know that it bothers some people because of the high altitude. But from what I have read the altitude doesn’t affect the inner ear just the middle ear. I still carry antivert on the plane with me anyway.

I don’t take many boat rides. The last one that I took only lasted two hours and I stayed inside the cabin. I didn’t have any problem with sea sickness.

One of the main problems with Meniere’s disease is the lack of definite information about it. There are so many unknowns that it is difficult to determine what causes an attack.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Things to avoid if you have Meniere’s disease

Here are some of the things that should be avoided if you have MM. Even if you didn't have meniere's disease it would still be beneficial to avoid them.
  • The first thing that any ENT will tell you to avoid is salt. In a previous post I went through the reasons of a low sodium diet. Of course there isn’t total agreement that lowering your salt intake will help your Meniere’s disease. In my case it didn’t. Usually the lower salt intake will be combined with a diuretic.
  • Another no-no is caffeine. Since caffeine is a stimulant it may make your meniere’s worse. The volume of tinnitus can increase due to caffeine. Also it can cause migraines which are common among Meniere’s patients. Chocolate can be put in this category too.
  • I am not sure why but alcohol should be limited also.
  • The nicotine in cigarettes restricts the blood vessels which decreases the blood supply to the inner ear making your symptoms worse.
  • MSG in Chinese food is connected with fluid retention which isn’t what any MM patient needs.
  • And remember when ever a doctor who isn’t you Meniere’s doctor prescribes a medication ask them if the new drug will have an adverse effect on the MM.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Valium and meniere's disease

Usually the only reason that anyone takes valium is for anxiety and nervousness. At least that was what I always thought. But it is helpful in its own way with MM.
I guess it was about the fifth trip to the emergency room from work, when I first heard about valium. The doctor on call asked all the usual questions about what medications I was taking. I told her the Antivert and a diuretic. She asked if I had ever taken valium. I told her no. She wrote out a prescription for 10 mg.
I took it till the medicine ran out and frankly I didn’t see any difference. I didn’t hear about valium again till I went to an inner ear specialist and he told me to begin taking it. He prescribed a 2 mg dosage. I begin taking it once in the morning when I woke up and I believe that it has been effective along with my other meds.
Why does it work? Simply put it relaxes the vestibular system. And you only need a small dosage which is good because the valium will make you tired. I know that the 10 mg made me tired.
Ask your inner ear specialist if it is right for you.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A bad experience with the sleep apnea surgery UPPP

I've never had any luck with the cpap. I don't know if I didn't give it a long enough time to work or whatever. Recently I have considered the Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) surgery. On Facebook I received this reply from Andrew about his experiences with the surgery and the CPAP. Now I not so sure about the surgery.

"there is something to be said for the CPAP. I was in my late 20's when I tried it and failed. I chose the surgery and had about three weeks of torture with my throat. When that healed I went from a loud snore to a wheeze and that irritated my wife even more....needless to say the surgery did not work. What I was not told was your tissue in your throat that they remove will scar up and build back scare tissue restricting your air way just like pre surgery. 13 years later I am worse with scare tissue and having to force myself to use the CPAP with varying results. I do not have a good answer but would say avoid the surgery, the mouthpieces that dentist make do not treat the apnea problem only help silence part of the snoring. The best thing I have found is CPAP and many people swear by it...but I am still getting attached to it. Andrew"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Causes of Tinnitus

Many Meniere’s disease patients also have tinnitus. Tinnitus patients hear a constant sound such as a hissing or roaring or ringing sound in their ears. Imagine hearing an unpleasant sound all day. That’s enough to drive anyone crazy.

Tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss. It is also associated with Meniere’s patients because both deal with the inner ear.

Tinnitus can be caused by several factors.

  • Loud noise not only causes deafness but can also cause tinnitus. You have to wonder how many musicians of the last thirty years have tinnitus.
  • Medications often have side effects and tinnitus can also be one. High dosage of aspirin is one culprit. So are diuretics which are commonly used by Meniere’s disease patients.
  • Excess fluid in the ears can contribute to tinnitus.
  • Growing old can cause many problems and it also can cause tinnitus.
  • Head and neck injuries affect nerves that may cause inner ear damage and tinnitus.
  • Acoustic neuroma is a rare growth on the cranial nerve which goes from the brain to the inner ear. It usually causes tinnitus in one ear.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Meniere's disease and VRT

I have finished Vestibular Rehab. Therapy and I must say that I was happy with the results. Usually MM patients don't have this type of therapy because what triggers this illness isn't motion. Vertigo patients show the best results with VRT because vertigo is caused by motion or sense of motion.

I went to 5 sessions and each session was dedicated to working on an area of balance that I showed weakness in. Some of the tests at the beginning were very hard and I scored poorly on them. But as I progressed through exercise my scores at the last session were almost normal.

Probably the most important thing that I learned through all these sessions is that balance comes from three areas. The inner ear is probably the most important and the one that is affected the most with vertigo and Meniere's disease. The eyes that sends signals to the brain and the feet that also lets the brain know if there is a problem occurring with balance.

After my gentamicin injections this summer I had a lot of problems driving. I think the problem was that I relied too much on my visual balance and not enough in my inner ear balance. After all the problems that I had over the past five years I just didn't trust the signals that my inner ear was sending to my brain. But now I trying to let my eyes and my ears work in tandem and it seems to be working, so far.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Can Meniere’s disease lie dormant for years?

This is a rather scary scenario. You had Meniere’s disease for many years, you went through all the treatments and diets and maybe even surgery and the meniere’s seemed to go away. But then it came back with a vengeance.

I have been feeling pretty good the last three months I haven’t had any major attacks (spinning, throwing up, ambulance rides) and I really haven’t had to many small attacks either. I feel like the gentamicin injections of last summer have finally kicked in. I don’t know if it is paranoid or what but in the back of my mind I feel like I am being lulled into thinking that it is all over. If you don’t have MM you probably don’t understand why this condition worries me so much. The attacks are brutal and frankly I am scared of them.

I read on a Meniere’s forum that some people have had remission periods of up to 10 years and then another attack. I don’t know all their circumstances but it is frightening to say the least.

This illness has a way of attaching itself to you that it is hard to comprehend. But you have to keep living you can’t let this illness take over your life.

Friday, April 3, 2009

What to do during a Meniere's attack

I have a lot of experience (way too much experience) in dealing with a meniere’s attack. Sometimes I get a little warning before an attack sometimes I don’t. If I have a little time I reach for the antivert and sit perfectly still. I have read that antivert doesn’t stop an attack but I take it anyway because it seems to help with the recovery. If I have more time and I’m at home I’ll take phenagan which helps with the nausea but makes me very tired. Antivert makes me tired but not as much as phenagan. Another reason that I take phenagan is that the seven times that I have been taken in the ambulance the paramedics have injected me with it. It definitely helps with the nausea.

If you have an attack without any warning and you find yourself spinning around and sick to your stomach, don’t move and try to remain calm. You can’t walk it off and if you are nauseous it is too late to take a pill. You will only throw up the pill and the water. If you can get someone’s attention that’s great, explain to them your condition. If you are extremely sick they may want to call an ambulance or they can bring you wet paper towels to try to cool you off.

I have had attacks lasting 4 hours and I have had attacks lasting 20 minutes. If I am throwing up and sweating profusely I will have someone call an ambulance. If my nausea isn’t that bad I will sit still and try to ride it out.

One of the most important things not to do when having an attack is trying to get up and walk. Don’t do it! You will probably fall and make matters far worse.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Meniere’s disease and Depression

If you have Meniere’s disease you know that depression and anxiety are definitely symptoms of this monstrous illness. Who wouldn’t be down knowing that at any moment you could have an attack no matter where you were or what you were doing. Not only will you feel badly, sometimes for days, it can also be embarrassing. And add the fact that there isn’t a cure makes it worse.

It is not only the patient’s life that suffers but also those around him. In my case when I have had attacks so bad that a trip to the hospital is required, my wife has had to leave work to go to the emergency room bringing our small son with her. My son doesn’t understand why his father gets sick and has to go by ambulance to the hospital so many times. It is difficult to explain to him about this illness since it is difficult for adults to comprehend what is going on with this disease.

Meniere’s patients should seek treatment if they find that the depression or anxiety is too great to handle on their own.