Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Meniere’s disease and herpes

If you have read much on the web about Meniere’s disease you will find that most say the main cause of this disorder is due to an increase of fluid in the membranous labyrinth, which is in the inner ear. This area is filled with a fluid called endolymph which moves around the membranous labyrinth sending signals to the brain about your balance. When there is a rupture in the membranous labyrinth, the endolymph may mix with something called perilymph, which in turn causes the symptoms of Meniere’s disease. For a more detailed explanation go to NIDCD, the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorder.

In the past I have written about the reason that I think I have Meniere’s disease. Another interesting theory is the connection between Herpes and Meniere’s disease. There is evidence that the Herpes simplex virus is presence in the endolymphic sac due to a virus can cause Meniere’s disease symptoms and if you have the symptoms you are considered to have the disease. However having Herpes simplex virus in the endolymphic sac is not a guarantee that you will get Meniere’s disease. This could be the reason that there has been some success with the drug acyclovir, an anti-herpes drug.
Dr. Hain has an excellent explanation of all this on his website.

As usual there is no definitive answer as to what causes Meniere’s disease.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

My son and my meniere’s disease

If you have Meniere’s disease you know how difficult it is to deal with spinning attacks and the throwing up and the fear of having an attack. Another problem that I have and I know many others do also is to try to explain Meniere’s disease to a younger child.

My son just turned eight years old on Saturday. It is hard to believe because the time as gone by so quickly. Let all parents my wife and I have had our wonderful highs and roughs lows that every parent goes through. The most difficult thing that I have a problem with is seeing how my son reacts to my illness.

I remember the first time that I was taken to the emergency room; my wife couldn’t find anyone to watch my son so she had to bring in the room where I was staying. He looked very scared as he saw me with an IV in my arm; he didn’t know what to think. We tried to explain to him that daddy was okay, just a little sick. I think he understood it, at least I hoped he did.

He has seen me countless times since then at home throwing up and he seems to have gotten used to it but I know that it bothers him. He knows that the illness has limited some of the things that I can do. And as I discussed before he loves to swim and he would love to see me be more active in the pool but I just can’t. That is rough for both of us.

I had a similar situation when I was growing up with my father. He had heart disease and had his first major heart attack while I was in kindergarten. I was scared and confused because my father at that time had to stay in the hospital for 3 months. This was in the early sixties and there wasn’t as much medical advances in the field of heart disease as there is today.

Over the course of the next 12 years my father had 5 heart attacks. In the back of my mind I was always wondering if the current heart attack was going to be the one to do him in. His last one was in 1977; he died at the age of 61.

Hopefully I will be around a lot longer than my father.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Keep a journal of your meniere’s attacks

The beginning of this year was very difficult for me. I was on disability the last 2 months of 2008 and I was going to try to go back to work January. The thing that worried me the most was the unpredictability of the meniere’s attacks. Would I make it to work today? Would I make it home after work? Would I have an attack and how bad would it be? I had to do something to try to put some order into my daily routine and to see if there was anything that I could to make things better. I decided to keep a daily journal of my life according to my Meniere’s disease.

My inner ear specialist mentioned to me to keep track of my attacks so he could see if there were any patterns. Instead of just keeping records of attacks, I also keep records of my medications, how much sleep I got, and how I felt while I was driving.

Would this prevent any attacks? No, but I also wanted to see if there were any useful information that could be found doing this exercise.

The first thing that I noticed was that the Monday morning commute was usually the roughest of the week. I don’t know why exactly but I guess it had to do with not driving much on the weekends. So every Monday I became very aware of what could happen and I was extra careful.

Another pattern that I saw was that at the end of week at work I became very tired (probably due to the medications that I was taking at the time and my sleep apnea) and this made me vulnerable to an attack.

I keep the journal going for about the first 3 months of the year. That is when I began my VRT training which seemed to help and at that time I believe that the inner ear balance had finally become adjusted to the gentamicin injections.

I would definitely recommend anyone to keep a journal of their experiences with meniere’s it could be quite helpful.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Meniere’s Disease and Rain

I live in the Atlanta area and for the past week we have been deluged with rain. Usually rain doesn’t have any effect on my meniere’s disease with this time it has really been bad.

Sunday night the rain started in the early evening and really didn’t stop till the following afternoon and then only for a little while before it started back up again. I went into work late because I needed to stay at the house to make sure the water wasn’t coming into the house (luckily it didn’t). When I did start for work around noon, my left ear (my bad ear) seemed to quickly fill up. It felt as though something was in it. I had very little hearing in that ear and then a rustling sound almost like white noise got louder and louder. This went on for most of the day and into the early evening. Before I went to bed my head became heavy which is usually a precursor to an attack. I took a Phenergan and went to bed.

This morning when I woke up my ear was okay but I was very tired. The rain had stopped for now and threat of the water getting into the house was gone. Unfortunately this afternoon while at work I once again felt like I was going to have an attack.

I can’t help wondering if all this humidity in the air has had an adverse effect on my meniere’s. It could also be the stress of worrying about having the basement filled with water. I’m just not sure.

My family was very fortunate in that we didn’t have any damage done to the house, so many people in the Atlanta area were not so lucky. It breaks your heart to see the pictures on the TV and the internet of how devastating this storm was. It shows how important it is to support organization like the Red Cross who do an outstanding job of being there when disaster hits.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Noise and Meniere’s disease

Loud, grating noise is unpleasant for anyone and if the noise is constant for a period of time a headache will usually follow. But is noise worse for Meniere ’s disease sufferers?

We had a fire drill at work today and the sound was blaring and very loud, which it should be if there is a fire in the building. In this case they were just testing the alarm and we didn’t go outside. Which meant that we had to sit and listen to the alarm for what seemed like eternity, even with fingers in my ears the noise was extremely annoying.

In the past few years since I have had meniere’s, loud noise especially loud quick unexpected noises have triggered an attack. I don’t know why but it has and it also causes a temporary case of tinnitus, which lasts for a short period of time.

I haven’t read that this is much of a problem for most Meniere’s disease sufferers. Usually the problem is lack of hearing or the dreadful tinnitus.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meniere's Disease Surgeries

With any kind of illnesses it always seems that surgery should be the last resort and that is certainly true of Meniere’s disease. If you can alleviate the meniere’s attacks or eliminate the attacks by lowering your sodium that’s great or maybe the diuretics do the trick for you. I hope that is the case with most people. Unfortunately for a lot of folks that isn’t the case. Surgery and procedures like the gentamicin injections are your only hope.

I have written before about one surgery that I almost went through with it was the endolymphatic shunt surgery. Like I had written in the post I got a second opinion and decided against it. I’m glad that I did and it showed me to always check with at least one if not two more doctors before going under the knife.

Another surgery that I wrote about was the Labyrinthectomy which is mostly for patients who don’t have any hearing left.

Cutting the nerve from the vestibular section in the ear is another type of surgery to help treat Meniere’s disease. This surgery is supposed to preserve the hearing in the ear. But there may be problems with balance after the procedure is done.

It is always best to go over all options surgical or otherwise with your doctor. And do your research so you can be informed before you discuss them. There is a lot of information out there so non-medical people like me and you can benefit from it.

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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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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Medications that trigger Meniere’s disease

What brings on an attack of Meniere’s disease seems to be a concern to whoever has this terrible condition. We know about eating too much salt and how the sodium causes havoc in the inner ear. We also know that stress can bring on an attack, although not every one believes that, but I certainly do! And we know that movement doesn’t cause Meniere’s disease (once again I don’t know if I believe that entirely).

My question is about medication that causes an attack of Meniere’s disease.

This past weekend my wife had the flu, I don’t know if it is just the regular flu or the one that everyone is talking about. Of course I started to feel bad about Sunday night. My body ached and I ran a fever and at night I couldn’t stop coughing. I took some Tylenol for the fever and for the coughing I took some prescription cough medicine. The warning label on the bottle was very clear and big enough to read without my glasses. “MAY CAUSE DIZZINESS” When you have Meniere’s disease you don’t want to take any thing that has those words written on them.
My cough was so bad that I took the cough syrup anyway.

Needless to say it did make me dizzy the next morning. It certainly helped my cough but I had a bad attack last night and I have been feeling like I could have another today. Hopefully after a few days I will be feeling back to normal (no meniere’s attacks).

Has anyone else ever had a problem with cough medicine?

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Meniere’s disease and diarrhea

Not the most pleasant topic to discuss or write about but it is definitely one that should be addressed, Meniere’s disease and diarrhea.

When I am in the middle of a particularly bad attack, my symptoms are usually vertigo, fever, nausea and a bit of a brain fog. Not once have I ever had diarrhea during or after an attack. But my bowels will tend to move before an attack comes along.

Of course I can see why this may happen; your stomach is in an uproar, hence the vomiting, so it would only natural that your bowels may also be loose. Like I said I am lucky that I haven’t had diarrhea because I have enough problems when I have an attack.

Just a quick update, I had an attack the other day, not too bad but I felt that it might have been worse if I didn’t take my Antivert quickly. This attack may have been brought on by the medication that I am taking since I had one of my wisdom teeth pulled. And I am also starting to get the flu ( I hope that it is just the regular flu!).

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Meniere’s disease and acupuncture

I have never had any form of acupuncture for any illness. I haven’t wandered far from traditional medicine when it comes to health care. Although I have read that some people have found relief from Meniere’s disease with acupuncture.

Acupuncture has been used for the treatment of various diseases and disorders since the Han Dynasty in China. The theory behind acupuncture is that there is a flow of energy within the body. This flow travels along 12 meridians or sometimes called channels. Each channel is associated with another part of the body like the lungs or the heart. The needles are placed in accordance with these channels. This is an over simplified explanation for a more complete understanding go to Wikipedia and search for acupuncture.

As far as treating Meniere’s disease with acupuncture, the needles are placed around the ear. The theory being that natural opiates are released for the ear and it may increase alteration in blood flow.

Of course there is a lot of skepticism about the effectiveness of this procedure. I haven’t read of any studies that show that this procedure works. I have read from some reliable sources that it is no more than a placebo.

I know that I wouldn’t do it because I don’t like needles (See my post on gentamicin injections), But if it works for some people that’s great.