Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tai chi and Meniere’s disease

I’ve never tried Tai chi and frankly I didn’t know anything about it till I googled it. Most people know that it is a form of internal Chinese Martial arts that is suppose to improve your health. I guess you don’t break any boards while doing it. Anyway one of the big benefits from Tai Chi is helping with your balance and that is how it ties in to Meniere’s disease.

If you live in the larger cities you might see people practicing their Tai chi in the parks. They move with slow flowing grace as one position turns in to another. It looks very relaxing and I imagine it is. It combines meditation with exercise. Its popularity has risen so much that you can find classes forming almost anywhere.

As for it helping with Meniere’s disease, I think (my opinion, I’m not a doctor) it would be two fold. One Meniere’s patients are extremely stressed; I know I don’t have to tell you that. If you could find something that helps relieve that stress then by all means do it.

There is also the question of balance. In previous posts I have discussed VRT and how it has helped me. If Tai chi, with its smooth and steady movements, can help your balance then you might just want to look into it. (Of course if your balance is really bad, then discuss this with your doctor and see how they feel about Tai chi)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Is a Meniere's attack about to occur?

Over the past 5 months I have felt pretty good. For the most part I haven’t had any attacks and no spinning. A few times my head has felt heavy but it didn’t lead to any attacks. And I don’t take Antivert every day like I used to. No longer do I find my stomach in knots as I get behind the wheel. After the gentamicin injections initial bad period where I felt bad almost every day (this lasted about 3 months) things have been good.

But for some reason the past two weeks have been scary. I was at work staring at the computer screen for quite a long time, a slight turn in my head made me feel like I was about to have an attack. I didn’t panic. I took an antivert and looked away from the screen. This has happened a few times in the past two weeks. I keep expecting this to lead to an attack.

I have also had a problem with tinnitus lately. It usually occurs at the end of the day, there is a hollow, almost an echo, in my ears. This sensation lasted about two days.

Is there something that I have done to lead to all this? I don’t know. My diet is about the same. My salt intake hasn’t increased, but even if it did that shouldn’t be a factor. Salt has never been an effect on my Meniere’s disease. Neither has caffeine.

I hope that this is just a blip on radar for me. I will keep you up to date.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Labyrinthectomy and Meniere’s disease



Labyrinthectomy is a surgical choice for meniere’s patients if there is total or almost total hearing loss. The surgery goes through the Mastoid bone and the inner ear (the labyrinth) is opened up. At this point the semicircular canals are drilled away leaving the nerve balance which is completely removed. No hearing is spared during this procedure.

This surgery requires about a 3 or 4 day stay in the hospital. There is vertigo for a day or two, and then the next 6 weeks there will be an adjustment period where the ‘good ear’ will take over all the balance function.

One of the main problems with this type of surgery is that Meniere’s disease has been known to be bilateral. In other words it will go from one ear to the other.

What has been found to be more effective is the gentamicin injection procedure, which is a non-surgical procedure that can be done in a doctor’s office.

To read about the beginning of my Meniere's journey click here

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Aspartame and Meniere’s disease

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener such as Equal and Nutrasweet. It is also found in many diet foods, sugar free gum and diet soft drinks. It is also used as a sugar substitute for people with diabetes.

So what’s wrong with aspartame and what does it have to do with Meniere’s disease?

If you do a search on aspartame on Google you will get close to 2 million results and probably most of them will tell you how bad aspartame is. In a nutshell, when aspartame reaches 86 degrees it breaks down into methanol, not formaldehyde as some websites have suggested. According to the FDA the amount of methanol is so slight that it will do little damage to you. The reason that there has been such a scare over aspartame was an elaborate internet hoax in 1998 where someone claimed to speak at a world wide conference on the dangerous effects of aspartame. Supposedly there were 92 dangerous illnesses that could occur if someone digested aspartame. But it was all a hoax.

And of course one of the illnesses was Meniere’s disease. Somehow the aspartame mimics the symptoms of meniere’s. I couldn’t find any specific answers on exactly how the sweetener causes this effect, but then again it also supposedly causes brain damage, birth defects, depression and a long list of other ailments.

It’s probably not a good idea to drink or eat that much of anything that has chemicals in it. But be careful especially when you are doing any searches on the internet about Meniere’s or any type of disease. Do the research especially about Meniere’s, and also talk to your doctor about anything that you heard that will cause an attack of Meniere’s disease.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

video of gentamicin injections

I found this video on the web about gentamicin injections. The guy who gets the shot does pretty well (a lot better than I did)
Check it out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xg5Hb-huKcA

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lorazepam and Meniere’s disease

Lorazepam is in a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. These medicines affect chemicals that cause anxiety and unbalance in the brain. Lorazepam helps to reduce nervous tension. It is a medication that is commonly used for depression. The brand name is Ativan. Another of the benzodiazepines is Xanax.

What does it have to do with Meniere’s disease? Lorazepam has a calming effect on the Central Nervous System and it can also help calm the meniere’s patient when they are having a severe attack of vertigo.

I haven’t taken Lorazepam so I don’t know personally how effective it is. The problem from what I have read about drugs like lorazepam and Xanax is that they are addictive. According to Dr. Hain, from the Chicago Dizziness and Hearing practice, if the drugs are prescribed in low dosages that should curtail the chance of addiction, although he doesn’t particularly like the choice of Xanax.

Also, lorazepam can be used to help with tinnitus, ringing in the ears according to the American Hearing Research Foundation.

As always it is a good idea to be careful and do your research and talk to your doctor before taking any medication.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Caloric test and Meniere’s disease

One of the tests to determine dizziness and balance problems is the Caloric stimulation test. Warm and cold water are put in the ear to determine if there are problems with your hearing or your balance. Your eyes are covered with patches that are connected to a computer that records all your eye movement.

When the cold water is put in your ear, your eyes should move rapidly side to side, this is called nystagmus. When the warm water is put in your ear, the eye movement should be just the opposite.

Your ears are tested one at a time. The test may cause some vertigo. The risks are minimal. If your eardrums are perforated, water can get in to the inner ear and cause infection.

Besides testing for vertigo, this test is also used to test for certain types of anemia.

Your Doctor will give you a list of things that you shouldn’t take before the test, such as caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants.

For more detailed information click on the following link
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003429.htm

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What caused my Meniere's disease?

One of my earliest blog posts I described how I started to get dizzy after a car accident. From there the attacks became more frequent and more severe. Well I don’t really know if the Meniere’s was caused by the accident.

The first ENT that I went to that discussed the possibility that I had Meniere’s disease didn’t think that the accident had caused my illness. He explained that since the accident wasn’t that bad and the fact that the bone around the ear is very hard, the impact probably didn’t cause my meniere’s. But to me it seemed more than a coincidence that the attacks started after the accident.

There are a lot of possible causes for MM.

The main theory about what brings on MM is the excess fluid buildup in the within the inner ear (labyrinth) which is made of 2 parts the bony labyrinth and the membranous labyrinth. The membranous labyrinth is filled with a liquid called endolymph that connects with nerve receptors which in turn sends balance information to the brain. If the volume of endolymph isn’t consistent, than the messages that are send to the brain could be inaccurate. This is why you have to cut back on sodium. The salt that you intake can increase the volume of endolymph in your inner ear. This is also the reason that diuretics are prescribed.

Is this the only reason? No, according to Dr. Hain of Chicago, immune diseases, viruses, head injuries and other possible reasons can also be attributed to Meniere’s disease. Click on the following link to find out more information from Dr. Hain.
http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/menieres/men_eti.html

Remember that MM is illness that is still a bit of a mystery. So don’t think that every case of MM can be tracked back to a disruption of the endolymph fluid in your inner ear.

Of course I still don’t know what caused my Meniere’s disease.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Triamterene hctz and Meniere’s disease

When I was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, the first ENT that I saw put me on a diuretic. As I discussed in an earlier post, the meniere’s patient inner ear structure doesn’t have the normal flow of fluid in them. Therefore having too much sodium in their diet will cause excess fluid causing hydrops, which in turn causes all the bad side effects of MM, such as tinnitus, dizziness, hearing loss, and imbalance.

The first diuretic that I was put on was Furosemide. At first it seems to work along with a low salt diet. I did have to take a potassium pill along with it because you will lose potassium through your urine and with diuretics you go to the bathroom quite a bit. There are foods such as bananas and tomatoes that are rich in potassium that you can eat but I took the pill anyway.
It wasn’t too long before the attacks started again and I stopped taking the diuretics. I wasn’t unhappy about that because the many trips to the bathroom each day were getting old and the potassium pill was hard for me to swallow.

Last year when I went to a specialist, I told him how difficult it was for me to take the diuretic. He suggested Triamterene hctz also called Dyazide. The difference between this medicine and the Furosemide was the Dyazide didn’t cause so many trips to the bathroom and it didn’t cause the potassium level to go down.

Well, I have taking it for about 7 months and it seems to help. Of course you never really know what helps with Meniere’s disease.

It is always good to check with your doctor and see which medicine is right for you.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Does Meniere’s disease burn out?

I have read in more than a few places that over time MM “burns out” over a period of time. I think that the confusion exists because ‘burns out’ doesn’t mean that the illness will simply go away, it means that vestibular system in the ear destroyed according to the web site Menieresinfo.com.

But if that is the case then there shouldn’t be any problem at least in the bad ear if the vestibular system is destroyed. Of course it has also been reported that MM is bilateral which means it goes from one ear to the other. The percentage range of this occurring is between 30 and 50 percent.

In my own case it seems that the gentamicin injections have helped. As I have posted earlier it did take some time. But am I “cured” of this incurable illness? Or am I in remission? I have also read that patients have had to have the injections again years later, kind of like a booster shot. My own doctor, who is a specialist in the inner ear, told me that wouldn’t be the case.

As with so many things dealing with MM, there is no definitive answer to the question “Does Meniere’s disease burn out.”

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Keeping your hope up with Meniere’s disease

When I had my first meniere’s attack I couldn’t believe that I could be so out of control of my body. I also couldn’t believe that it was happening to me. I was in a car accident, not a bad accident someone hit me from behind. I believe that was the cause of my MM. I know that the doctors that I have seen don’t necessarily agree with that, who knows it could be something else. I thought that it would just go away and everything would be okay.

But the worse was to come.

As I explained in many of my posts my attacks got worse and more numerous. As all this was going on my emotional state was taking a dive. I knew there was no cure and the thought that the rest of my life was going to be this way scared me. How can I live like this?

And it wasn’t any picnic for my family either. My wife was scared that I was going to hurt myself by falling or by being in a car wreck. My son who was 4 at the time didn’t know what to think seeing his father in the emergency room or seeing his father throwing up violently at home.

I had to get in the right mind set about MM and how it was controling my life. Instead of accepting that thing were always going to be this way, I decided that I would go from doctor to doctor until I got some relief. And after 5 years I think I have. But if I get another round of bad attacks I will be back at the doctor’s office trying something, anything to control this awful illness.

I know that it is difficult, very difficult, but you must keep trying to control this thing. Don’t let it control you.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Vertigo heel: Is it effective against Meniere’s disease?

If you go to many websites you will read about alternative medicine (homeopathy) in the fight against MM, such as vertigo heel, Bioflavonoids, gingko, Vinpocetine, niacin and a host of other vitamins and supplements.

On this post I will talk a little about vertigo heel.

Vertigo heel is a supplement made up of botanical, mineral and zoological substances. How does it work? It is supposed to create a better communication between the brain and vestibular system. There aren’t any known adverse side effects.

I’ve never tried it so I can’t say one way or the other. As with a lot of homeopathy treatments, the medical community doesn’t have much faith in vertigo heel (from what I have read). Dr. Hain, a well known doctor who has a wonderful and informative website writes about vertigo heel.

Another well written and thoughtful website that makes the argument for natural supplements is John’s Meniere’s Regimen.

Always make sure to do as much research as possible before taking any type of medication.