Monday, August 31, 2009

How my meniere’s disease is going as of the end of August

Well, this has been a strange year of ups and downs with regards to my meniere’s disease. Right now things aren’t that bad and when I say aren’t that bad I mean that I haven’t had any attacks and I haven’t been eating antivert like candy.

As I posted before, the year started out with me just coming off disability, I was still a little shaky but I could return to work. After 6 weeks of VRT I felt a lot better (I don’t know if the VRT had anything to do with it, but I can’t say that it didn’t). For the next three months after that, I felt pretty good, I didn’t have any attacks at all and I felt comfortable driving again.

Of course the good times never last forever with Meniere’s disease. At the end of spring and around the time that I took my plane ride I started to feel bad again. No violent attacks but enough to convince me to start taking antivert again. This bad period has lasted most of the summer. But for some reason I have been feeling pretty good lately. And that is strange considering my health in general hasn’t been all that great this summer with my high blood pressure and the wisdom tooth extraction of last week. I had worried after I had the tooth pulled that the pain pills that I was given might cause an attack to occur but they didn’t.

So right now things are aren’t bad. I don’t know how long this will last but we will see…

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Meniere’s disease and going deaf

Losing your hearing is one of the most unfortunate side effects of Meniere’s disease. It varies on how much hearing is lost from patient to patient. Some folks lose all their hearing while other just lose some hearing. In my case, I am losing more and more of my hearing, at least it seems that way.

I have written about Meniere’s disease and hearing loss in a previous post. It seems a terrible injustice to have to go through all the hell of meniere’s and then have problems with your hearing. With some meniere’s patients they have to also deal with tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears. My heart goes out to those who have to deal with meniere’s and tinnitus.

My hearing loss is mostly in my left ear, my ‘bad’ ear, my ‘meniere’s’ ear. My guess is that I had some hearing loss before I was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. I always had problems putting the phone to that ear because I couldn’t hear anyone speaking. But there are times now where I don’t pick up all the words when people are speaking to me. At that point I can either pretend to hear what they are saying or ask them to repeat it. If they do repeat it they will shout the words out loud which is very embarrassing.

I talked to my doctor about hearing aids, but he told me that since I still had some hearing in the good ear, the hearing aid would interfere with it. Someone also told me that hearing aids aren’t generally paid for by insurance companies, which is not good.

Something else to consider with hearing loss and meniere’s roughly 50 percent of meniere’s patients eventually have the disorder in both ears. I’m not sure what I would then. Maybe I would reconsider the hearing aid.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What is the difference between Vertigo and Meniere’s disease?

You are dizzy and you become lightheaded. You wondered if what you have is vertigo. When people think of vertigo they think of the movie Vertigo not the illness. They think that the fear of heights has something to do with it, but it doesn’t. Or maybe your dizziness is caused by something that you haven’t heard about before like Meniere’s disease. What is the difference between Vertigo and Meniere’s disease?

Vertigo is the feeling that you are in motion when you aren’t. The spinning can make you sick and it can be dangerous if you have a fall. Meniere’s disease also involves spinning and nausea, but unlike Meniere’s disease, visual stimulus called nystagmus can trigger a vertigo attack.

The source of vertigo is in the inner ear which sends false information to the brain when an attack of vertigo occurs. Sudden head movements cause loose particles in the inner ear to send these false signals. There are other causes of vertigo like ear inflammation that will also bring on an attack.

The source of Meniere’s disease is also in the inner ear but the cause of it is unknown. Some believe that it is a buildup of fluid in the inner ear where as others believe that a virus is the cause.

Fortunately, vertigo can be cured most of the time by physical therapy that has the vertigo sufferer moving his head to different positions; this causes the loose particles in the inner ear to move away, ending the incorrect signals to the brain. VRT, Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is also used to treat vertigo patients.

There is no cure for Meniere’s disease, only procedures that help with the symptoms.
Medications such as Antivert and valium, which are also used for Meniere’s disease, have been found to be helpful in controlling vertigo.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Meniere’s disease and exercise

Up until I started to have Meniere’s disease, I use to walk every day. And there was a time in my life (when I had more time) that I use to run each day. Those days unfortunately are all over. But should they be just because of my condition? I need to take a deeper look at Meniere’s disease and exercise.

From my late teens to my early thirties I ran all the time. I was in great physical shape, then I had a disc flattened out in my back and the running came to an end. But I still walked everyday and it was great mentally and physically. There is something about walking that clears your head and makes you think better. Running is similar but it takes more of a toll on the body.

Then came Meniere’s…

I still tried to walk and it worked for a little while. But with the attacks coming every few days it was difficult to get into a rhythm of walking regularly. I would walk a few days then I was off my feet for a few days. It was frustrating and so I quit. I know that I shouldn’t have but I did.

I have received many e-mails from folks talking about the benefits of Meniere’s disease and exercise. I think that I am going to try to walk again, not much at first but build it up to at least 30 minutes a day. I also wish that I could swim more but I worry too much about my ears being filled with water.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Meniere's Disease and alcohol

I have never been much of a drinker and I guess it is just as well since I have Meniere’s disease. I can’t imagine anyone continuing to drink after suffering with this condition. Although I haven’t seen any warnings about not drinking but it makes sense doesn’t it? There are so many things that can trigger an attack; alcohol would definitely be on that list. If caffeine can set you into orbit then alcohol with all the things that it does certainly can’t be good.

But one thing is for certain taking valium and alcohol has always been a no-no and valium is one of the most popular drugs to help with meniere’s. So I am pretty sure that the other medications for meniere’s don’t mix well with alcohol.

Another reason is how the ethyl alcohol in booze is absorbed through the blood and then travels into cell membranes. The alcohol somehow helps to release salts and minerals from the cell membranes. This in turn can be bad if the cell membrane is in the inner ear. I have read a lot about Meniere’s disease but this is new to me. I take everything that I read on the internet with a grain of salt. (Excuse the pun)

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Friday, August 14, 2009

How long are your meniere’s attacks?

I remember the first time that I had a meniere’s attack. It was about a week or so after I was in a car accident, the car accident that I believe started all this hell for me. It was at night and I just got home. I opened the car door to get out and I felt my head spinning, luckily my wife was there to help me inside. I sat down and the spinning stopped after 20 minutes.

Looking back I would have thought that attack would have been longer and would have been more severe, but it wasn’t. There has always been an inconsistency in the duration of the Meniere’s’ attack and the severity.

Before I had my gent injections last summer, there was no telling how bad an attack would be. It might have been just a little spinning and then I was okay. Or it might have been an ambulance ride to the emergency room. And of course there was very little warning and sometimes none at all.

Unfortunately after the gent injections most of my attacks were severe with vomiting and spinning that could last for hours. The recovery time after an attack like that was usually 2 days or more.

As I have written recently my attacks have been coming back, but not as bad as before. I haven’t thrown up or had any ambulance rides (Knock on wood) and the amount of down time is usually only about an hour or so. But I have been having them with more frequency and this has caused me to be leery about driving and has caused me to miss a good deal of work.

I am curious to hear from anyone about how long their attacks are and how long their recovery time is so feel free to comment.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Can you still swim if you have Meniere’s disease?

How bad is swimming for Meniere’s disease? I had written on an earlier post how I was reluctant to get in the water because of my meniere's. The fear that water would get into my ears and I would have an attack right there in the water.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I went swimming with my son in a small and relatively shallow pool. The son loves to swim and he loves to jump into the water. He constantly tries to get me to jump in but I tell him over and over again that I can't. All that I do is walk around in the water making sure that my head stays dry. He is only seven and I think he tries to understand my limitations but sometimes he can't. I hate to disappoint him.

So I thought that since the pool was shallow I could probably jump in and still keep my head above water. The pool had a ladder on one side so I decided to first try to jump off the top step into 4 feet of water. I pushed off the ladder and somehow I got my foot caught landing flat on my back into the water. I went completely under. I could feel the water fill my ears. I got out of the pool as quickly as possible. I sat down and waited to see if my plunge would have any effect on me. It didn't, but it gave me a good scare.

Now I am not saying that I am going to start jumping off the high dive or anything like that but I might try to go underwater again to see if there is any problem. Should I be concerned about water in the ears anyway? Water coming into the outer ear shouldn't be able to make its way to the membranous labyrinth where the fluid endolymph is, should it? I don’t think it would.

My next Doctor’s appointment I’ll have to ask him about all this.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Meniere’s disease and computer use

I spend all of my work day in front of a computer and then I spend a few hours almost every night on the computer. The work that I do and have done for the past 19 years has been in computer graphics which means detailed work, cleaning up graphic pictures. I never had a problem with eye strain. I have had this routine for quite a while, even before I started having the meniere’s attack. But now I am wondering if sitting in front of a computer screen has had a negative effect on my condition.

It seems that the last few attacks that I have had have been at night, late night before I go to bed. Some have even started right before I shut the computer down for the night. I know that meniere’s patients are not supposed to be affected by any visual changes like nystagmus. I know in an earlier post that I discussed the possibility of my cataract surgery having an effect on my meniere’s disease. But now I am wondering if it is due to eye strains from too much time on the computer.

This is something that has been on my mind for a few days.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Meniere’s Disease and walking in the dark

One of the biggest fears I have about meniere’s disease besides having an attack while driving is falling down. I have written in the past about how meniere’s affects my movements, something that has happened recently scared me.

It was about 2 in the morning and I had to get up and use the bathroom. Usually I don’t have any problem feeling my way around to get to the light switch in the bathroom. My eyes adjust to the dark pretty well so there isn’t any problem with them, but on this particular night I felt the room sway which made me frantically feel for the wall. Panic set in, I guess because I wasn’t entirely awake. I stood there for just a second to get my bearings straight then I proceeded to turn the light on. I was lightheaded at this point and after using the bathroom, I gingerly made it back to bed.

I know that balance is coordinated between the inner ear, the feet and the eyes. This little episode makes me wonder how reliable my inner ear and my feet are when it comes to balance. Now I know that I relied too much on my vision for balance after the gent injections. But at some point in the spring I had my ears, eyes and feet all working nicely to maintain my balance. I certainly hope that the problems that I have had recently are not connected with bad signals being sent from my ‘good ear’ to the brain. If this keeps up I may get my VRT exercises out and start doing them again to see if that would help.

I’ll keep you updated.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Acyclovir and meniere's disease

Since I began my long journey with Meniere’s disease I have researched many medications, procedures and surgeries in hope of finding something that will work in my case. A few of the things that I have tried haven’t been very successful like salt reduction and certain types of diuretics. But there has been successes (at least I think it has been a success) like the gentamicin injections. After a rocky start it seems to have helped me. Right now I’m having a little bit of trouble, but anyway I have recently read about something called Acyclovir.

Acyclovir is an antiviral drug which means that it treats infections caused by certain types of viruses. It has been used for shingles, chicken pox and herpes virus among other things. As for the connection between Meniere’s disease and acyclovir it seems logical because some believe that herpes simplex causes Meniere’s disease.

Of course not everyone believes that it is caused by a virus, many believe that meniere’s is the result of Hydrops or excess fluid in the inner ear. That is why diuretics are used to help to eliminate that fluid and the admonition about salt reduction is also given. As I have said before the reduction of salt didn’t help me and from what I have read on meniere’s forums it hasn’t always helped other folks either.

Like I have said before, with meniere’s you hear many reasons why you might have the disease and you hear about various treatments, some that work and some that doesn’t.

If you have this condition you know what I mean.

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