Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Meniere’s disease and taking medications

In my last post I wrote about how the pollen is affecting me and my meniere’s disease. Well the pollen is still here causing me to become dizzy and light headed. Consequently I have taken a lot of medications that has made me very lethargic. I have taken not only the Antivert but also the Phenergan, both are sedatives. I have also taken Benadryl, which makes me tired as well. All this has pretty much kept me in bed most of the time the past few days. I have also missed work.

I really have to wonder sometimes if I am taking too many medications especially if I am at home. After having Meniere’s disease for so many years I am not sure that some of these medications have lost their effectiveness on me. Especially with the Antivert, it seems lately if I am at home I will go for the Phenergan before the Antivert. Of course if I am at work I can’t take the Phenergan because it makes me really tired.

One reason that I am quick to take the medications is the memory of all the bad attacks that I have had. I get scared that I am about to have an attack and immediately go for the meds. As most of you know just the thought of having a bad attack can be frightening.

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  1. I know what you mean about these medications. It’s often a case of “damned if you do; damned if you don’t.” For me it has been a lot of trial and error – when to take them; how much to take; when and if to stop; etc.

    Meclizine is the drug I detest the most. It stops the vertigo, but turns me into a “drugged zombie” afterwards. The combination of post-vertigo “brain fog” and post-meclizine “zombidom” are the ultimate downer that can last for days. It makes me close to being non-functional. Then the overwhelming fatigue follows. I find myself resorting to caffeine/coffee, which I know I am supposed to avoid, to counter that overwhelming urge to sleep all the time.

    I have used as much as 50 mg during episodes of severe vertigo, but usually take 25 mg. I have never been able to take meclizine on a regular basis. They say the drowsiness is supposed to decrease, and possibly go away completely. But I have never gotten that far because of the above side effects. I just hated how I felt too much to keep going. I tried reducing the dosage to 12.5 mg; then cutting that tablet in half. While the intensity of side effects lessened with the reduced dosage, I still experienced the tiredness.

    So I have learned (to some degree) to recognize the warning signs of an impending attack. And depending on the severity of those signs, I will take 6.25 mg or 12.5 mg (hoping to nip the attack in the bud and avoid “zombidom”); resorting to 25 mg if I do experience vertigo. And then taper off as soon as possible. But this doesn’t always work,
    and a full-blown vertigo attack nails me. Yes, just the thought of having a bad attack is very scary. Fear versus hated side effects becomes my issue. The side effects must blunt the fear, because I taper off as soon as possible. Until the next time.

    And I haven’t even mentioned its effects on my enlarged prostate. If it is not one thing, it’s another!

    You mentioned taking Benadryl (diphenhydramine). Is that for your allergies? For sleep? For Meniere’s? Both meclizine and Benadryl are antihistamines with the same side effects, i.e. drowsiness, as you are well aware. A long time ago I used to take Benadryl to help me sleep, which it did, but stopped because of the side effects. I am taking Ambien now, which doesn't have the side effects like the antihistamines.

    The pollen count is sky high here in Kansas City also, and my allergies are responding accordingly (if it is not one thing, it’s another!). My physician prescribed antihistamine Astelin (azelastine) nasal spray, which seems to work okay. I have also take loratadine (Claritin), which is a nonsedating antihistamine. Zyrtec (cetirizine) is another nonsedating antihistamine.

  2. I am a meclazine user, and a nap taker. Luckily I am a stay at home mom now and my kids are in school now. When my oldest was 2, he learned to use the VCR because of my attacks. My husband would come home and make lunch for him and check on me. I went for about 15+ years with very little dizziness, then this past October it came back with a vengeance. I swear I don't have a trigger it just hits me when it wants to. I was taking Meclazine 3 times a day, plus wearing a transderm scop patch behind each ear. As it eased I have slowly weaned off the meds, because I do build up a resistance. Meniere's is so strange, it affects me different ways different times. The other night I was sitting on the couch feeling fine and then it is like someone literally hit me on the head, then the room was spinning. Most other times is starts so mildly I may think hmm I am feeling weird today, and then progresses to the hours of constant vomiting. I have a 'Pheregan' like cream that I rub on my wrists to slow the vomiting. I don't know if it works or it just goes away. When I am having frequent attacks I will take as many pills or put on as many patches as it takes to make it go away, or to lessen it.

    Sorry this was a bit off topic, but it feels good to talk to someone that understands. I don't know how many times people say 'oh I get dizzy too'. Makes me feel like they are saying I am just wimpy. I really enjoy reading your posts. I pray you feel better soon, and for a long time.


  3. Denis,
    Right now I have been taking benadryl for allergies and it also helps me sleep. Of course I have to be careful because I have sleep apnea also, which means I have to cautious about any sedative.
    that is interesting about the phenregan cream I don't think that I have heard about it before, but my memory isn't always that great:)

    Hopefully this pollen season will end shortly here and in KC so we can all get some relief.
    thanks for commenting

  4. Sandie,
    I am a big nap taker too, especially on the weekends. Unfortunately I can't nap too long because I also have a 8 year old son who keeps me busy.
    Thanks for the comment and stay in touch

  5. Denis,
    Sorry I got a little confused on who wrote about the phenregan cream. the brain fog must be setting in.

  6. Hi there, I am a 32 year old woman with Meniere's (currently in "remission"). I am excited to have found your site and will keep checking in. It is nice to find people who understand what I go through and to find new meds and ways of dealing with attacks. I agree that once you feel like an attack is imminent you will take as many meds as possible to prevent it. No matter how many times I get a vertigo attack, that fear never goes away! I have not had a bad episode for going on 10 months now but I previously went into remission for over 6 years so here's hoping!

  7. Good luck I hope that you don't have any attacks in the future.
    thanks for commenting and stay in touch

  8. Just to share in relation to medication, I noticed that Cinnarizine is effectively controlling my symptoms. No more spinning spells for almost 2 months now (too early to say though). But it seems effective, have you heard of this meds? I hope I found my silver bullet. The only thing which concerns me is negative side effects.

  9. thanks for the comment I have heard others talk about cinnarizne and I really don't know much about it. I'll do a little research on it.

  10. Meniere's disease has changed my life in such a negative way. I am 19 right now, and I started to have vertigo attacks back when I was in middle school. This disease has made me into a nervous wreck when I was younger, but it finally stopped by the time I went into high school. A few months ago, before I graduated from high school, I've started to get attacks again. Then it stopped once again, but now its is back yet again. I am in college now and it hit me hard today. I was just sitting in my english writing class, and the room just starts to subtley spin around. It is the worst feeling ever to have one of these attacks while you are in public, absolutely terrible. I just had to stay calm and wait for it to pass. I have meclizine, but i've taken it the other day and it made me so incredibly lethargic, I can't go on taking medicine like this, it'll affect my studies. And I think I am one of the youngest people to have this incredibly life changing problem. I have to explain to people my age what vertigo is all the time. Today, I found some herbal remedy pills that are supposed to help with vertigo so I ordered those and should be getting them wednesday. I just felt I had to talk about this problem with some people who understand this problem.

  11. Daniel~
    I feel so bad for you!
    I have had MD for 3 years and I am 53.
    Mine is really bad, but I've often thought how much harder it would be if I were younger when it hit..still had small children, or school to get through.
    Menieres is horrible, and it's very difficult to try and explain to anyone. They just can't understand the scope & depth of it all.
    You hang in there! Hopefully you will head back in to remission soon.

  12. Oh, Daniel, I'm SO sorry. You are indeed very young for a Meniere's victim. Like Lauri, I'm 53 and have had very active symptoms for about three years.

    As Lauri points out, it's likely you will head back into remission, but you might consider seeing an ear/nose/throat specialist to see if there's anything they can do for you if the attacks continue or become more regular.

    The good news for you, being so young, is that there is a ton of medical research being done now to help people who have Meniere's Disease. I think within the next decade there will be all kinds of new options for you, and I hope you will be able to get the symptoms under good control.

    Best of luck, and don't hesitate to stop back on this blog when you feel like you need a reality check or just some sympathy from fellow sufferers.

  13. Daniel,

    Sorry to hear about you going through an episode in public. I had my first episode when I was 14. It had gone into remission for several years and came back a little in college. So, I know what you mean about being young and not knowing what to do about it. I'm 27 now and have a 3 yr. Old who depends on me. Like Peggy said, go see an ENT, preferably an otoneurologist. Those tend to specialize more with ear vestibular disorders like Meniere's. I absolutely love mine. Just keep in mind, your young, but not the only one.

  14. Thanks for the support! I think my vertigo is steadily going away each day so I am very thankful for that. I have gone to an ears/nose/throat doctor before and he just prescribed meclizine to me, which i refuse to take because it makes me sleep for hours and makes me tired for the entire next day. I will, however, look into an otoneurologist since it seems to be more specific with problems such as menieres.

  15. I'm keeping my meclizine around for the nights when I have trouble sleeping. ;-)

    An otoneurologist is a good idea when it comes to Meniere's because it really comes down to a problem with inflammation that puts too much pressure on your vestibular nerve. The treatments are all about reducing the inflammation, by trying to figure out what is causing it. At least, that's what I've come to believe based on my perceptions over the past two years.

    I'm having so much chronic dizziness that my ENT wants me to have another round of ENG and caloric tests, to see if I still have nystagmus and to learn if my vestibular nerve that was severed a year ago could somehow be acting up again. Fortunately, she is not just my ENT, she's also the neurosurgeon who performed the operation.

  16. Hi,
    I have had MD for about 15 years. I am now 44. I do not have symptoms everyday for which I am thankful, but when I do get them, I am in bed for the duration - up to 3 days. Lifting my head or trying to get up causes the room to turn upside down and I have to carry a pail in case I vomit. There is a whooshing sound in my ear (generally the right) and I am sensitive to loud sounds. At the same time, some sounds seem muffled. Seems contradictory but that's the way it is. When I was diagnosed years ago I was told there was nothing I could do. Take gravol and Dimetapp til it goes away.

    I've decided I need to do my own research and now see I need to back off caffeine, salt and sweeteners (does this include Splenda? Only sweetener I use). I am not a huge caffeine or salt person, so need to see what else I need to do as preventative medicine.

    I would like to know which OTC antihistamine is better? Dimetapp which has a low dosage of antihistamine, Benedryl (I'm in bed anyway when it hits), or another allergy med? They seem higher in dosage. Should I be taking these all the time to prevent an attack?

    I get attacks - bad ones - a few times a year. Sometimes I have episodes that are mild enough I can function if I have to,but I would really just like to stop it!

  17. Hi Kimberly,
    I have taken benedryl for allery problems before but not for meneire's although it seems like it could help some,( at least it would make you tired)
    As for caffeine and salt some folks find that it can really be helpful in minimizing meniere's attacks, unfortunately this isn't true for everybody.
    thanks for commenting