Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ear aches and Meniere’s disease

When I was young I used to get the ear ache all the time. My parents took me to the doctor and he would prescribe some ear drops that would usually do the trick. I don’t know if that has anything to do with my present condition of Meniere’s disease, but it worth noting. And as I have written before I had also a problem with car sickness, or motion sickness, did that have anything to do with the ear aches, its something else I’m not sure about.

What causes ear aches?

You probably have heard about the Eustachian tube, it connects the middle ear with the back part of the nose. Its function is to drain fluid out of the middle ear. (If you have had gent injections the Eustachian tube carried the gentamicin out of the ear after the injections. It is not pleasant.) When this tube becomes infected and swollen with bacteria mucus blocks the tube from draining properly. This causes the terrible pain of an ear ache. Unfortunately children seem to get ear aches a lot as they grow up. Medications can clear up this problem in about a week. And as I remember when I was a kid it was a very long week.

I find it interesting that children with allergy problems and frequent nasal congestion are prone to get ear aches. I can’t say for certain if all this leads to Meniere’s disease but considering all my ear problems as a child I have to wonder.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Good results from the meniett device

I have written in the past about the meniett device. It is a relatively new treatment for Meniere’s disease. I thought about using it until I found out that my insurance company wouldn’t cover the cost. Some folks haven’t had any success with it and some have found relief.

I received this comment a couple of weeks ago it is from Ken Clifton. He has had a positive response to the meniett device.

Ken Clifton said...

I have been using a Meniett device prescribed by my ENT in January of 2010 with very good success. Prior to the Meniett I was almost confined to the house due to severe vertigo attacks that lasted up to 6 hours at a time. I understand that the device does not work for everyone, but it has been a blessing for me.

For the last 6 months I have led a mostly normal life, except for when the temporary ear tube has come out, or become clogged. I just had a permanent (T-tube) implanted this week.

It took about 3 weeks for the Meniett to reduce about 95 percent of my symptoms, this is documented by Medtronic. Medtronic will allow a 2 month trial of the device with a full refund if it does not work.

I could tell immediately that it was helping me, in fact I did arrest attacks that had started.

I hope this helps.

Thanks Ken.

In the past couple of years I have had comments saying that the device is worthwhile and some say that it isn’t. I can’t personally say one way or the other because I haven’t used it. It is always best to do your own research and check with your doctor.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Meniere’s disease and cervical vertigo

As you probably have heard at one time or the other, Meniere’s disease is sometimes diagnosed because other things have been ruled out at least that is what one of my doctors has told me. And I believe him. Why we get Meniere’s disease is not completely known. Leading otolaryngologists have differing opinions on what causes it and they definitely have different opinions on how to treat it, not cure it but treat it. I sometimes wonder if meniere’s is even the culprit. Recently I received an email where someone suggested that maybe I didn’t have Meniere’s disease at all, maybe what I had was cervical vertigo.

Here is the comment from Charles…

Are you sure you have meniere's? I have similar problems that started after a whiplash incident and is provoked most times by head and neck movement. Dr. Hain in Chicago ( Dizziness and Balance) says I may have cervical vertigo. The fact you started with an accident, trigger with movement, and did not get help from Gent or Low Salt makes me wonder? Disruption of blood flow and/or nerves at the base of your skull can mimic Meniere's.

I had to look up cervical vertigo because I couldn’t remember any of the details of it. I looked on Dr. Hain’s website and it did state that the vertigo and dizziness was caused by the holding the head at a certain angle or turning the head. The website really goes in depth on the subject and it is very interesting. I would definitely recommend reading it.

My next visit to my doctor is in a few weeks I will make sure to ask about this condition.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Meniere’s attack and Nystagmus video

When you think about Meniere’s disease you generally think about the inner ear where balance sends messages to your brain. When the messages aren’t right, usually caused by meniere’s or vertigo, you end up spinning or getting sick to your stomach or both. But interestingly enough the movement of the eyes or nystagmus also play a part in it.

In the past I have written about eye movements and Meniere’s disease. Nystagmus is the involuntary movement of the eyes. It is commonly founded in those with meniere’s and vertigo. In my case the eyes move in a circle or they jerk violently.

In the following video a meniere’s patient’s eyes are being filmed during an attack. The audio is a little hard to understand but you can see the way the eyes jerk about.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How’s your balance?

It can really be frustrating to run into things when you are walking. It can also be frustrating to have to hold on tables, chairs, and the wall, anything when you are standing up. Having poor balance can get you into a lot of trouble especially if you are out in public and start swerving around like you are going to fall. I am experiencing it quite a bit right now because of my ongoing gent injections. Meniere’s disease can really play havoc on your balance.

I received an email from Susanna the other day. She was responding to my last post about big decisions and Meniere’s disease.

Here is an excerpt from the comment…

As I wrote in another comment it’s not common with the Labyrinthectomy or any other surgery here in Sweden. I talked to my doctor about the gent injections but he says it’s not for me because I have bilateral M, and there is a risk of more severe hearing loss. A good thing is I’m feeling quite ok at the time. I wonder if my bad balance is a good sign. My doctor told me many years ago that M can "burn itself away". I have enough balance to bicycle, but walking in darkness or on a not smooth surface give problems and I look like I’ve had too much to drink! I try to think that at least my loved ones know I’m not drunk :)

Susanna has some of the same balance problems that I do and she didn’t even have the gent injections. Walking in dark isn’t too good for me either. Strangely enough when I am in the shower and my eyes are closed I have to reach for the wall to keep my balance. walking on an uneven trail is really bad for me too which is a shame because my family likes to walk on trails in a nearby forest.

I don’t think I ever realized how important balance is. I am hoping that after this series of gent injections that my balance will once again be restored, maybe not to the level of what I had but at least to be functional.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Big decisions with Meniere’s disease

There are always decisions that have to be made in life, some are ease and others can be quite difficult. The consequences of your actions must always be considered before making any decision. When you have a medical procedure or some type of surgery you should always question what could go wrong and if it can be corrected. Luckily with Meniere’s disease there are some things that you can do to try to improve your situation without any consequences like changing your diet (low salt) or a using a meniett device. There is no irreparable damage that can be caused by either one.

But are you ready to take a chance with other Meniere’s disease treatments?

When I originally agreed to have the gent injections I knew that there was a risk of hearing loss, a slight risk but a risk none the same. I was fortunate that my bad hearing in my left hear didn’t get any worse after the first round of the shots. Now that I am in the middle of the 2nd set I am a little more concerned but still not that worried about losing more hearing. My goal is to stop the vertigo and the balance problems; I would exchange a little more loss of hearing if the spinning would stop.

The other day I saw my doctor for what I thought was going to be another gent injections. After I told him of all the problems with my balance that I had had in the past two weeks he held off in giving me the shot. He thought that the balance problems showed that the previous 2 injections were working and he wanted to give them a little more time before another shot. I asked him what if all this didn’t work what was next. He told me that I should think about having the Labyrinthectomy surgery.

I have read quite a few stories on the internet about how good or bad the Labyrinthectomy surgery works. The one definite thing about this type of surgery is that there is no turning back. The hearing is gone and so is the balance in that ear, never to return. Do I want to make that decision? No, not right now hopefully the gent injections will work. I may look at it eventually but I am just not ready at this point to have my inner ear removed and live with the consequences.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Creating inner ear cells

Last week I wrote a post about how Meniere’s disease research is going on in Australia and how promising that sounded. As usual I received some terrific information through the blog comments. One comment was about the research going on at Stanford to regenerate the inner hair cells in the ear.

This is from Tom…
I have also heard of a doctor at Stanford that is on the verge of regenerating and growing inner ear hair cells. So the hair cells that meniere’s destroys in your hearing and balance nerves may one day be able to be replaced and we could all have a new healthy inner ear. I wish Dr Brown and the man at Stanford the best. The problem with America is that it takes sooo long for the FDA and other agencies to approve anything. They have to go through so many clinical trials.

There is also something called oto 104 in clinical stages that involves sustained release steroids for meniere’s
talk to you soon


This is wonderful and encouraging news because anyone with Meniere’s disease probably has lost their hearing or is in the process of losing it. It seems that we are born with 30000 cochlear and vestibular hair cells in each ear. These cells give us our balance and our hearing. Unfortunately they don’t grow back if they are lost. How do we lose the inner hair cells? Loud music is one thing. Loud noise is another and injuries to the ear.

I found a link to the Stanford Research site and it is pretty interesting. Check it out.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Low dose gentamicin and meniere’s disease

If you have Meniere’s disease then you probably have heard about gentamicin injections. They are injections into the ear through the ear drum that supposedly kill the balance in that ear thus relieving some of the problems of meniere’s. I am on my 2nd set of shots with one to go. Are they effective, for some people they are and some they aren’t. After my first set I thought that I was through with them but my meniere’s came back and I decided to get another set of shots. I am hoping that this time it will work although I can’t see me going back for another round.

A couple days ago I received a comment enquiring about the low dose gentamicin shots.

This is from Paul…

I did read Dr. Hain's stuff and it did make sense to me, I was hoping to find someone else who has been through low dose injections to hear their experience. I have been pretty wobbly the past 4 days, but I think it is starting to taper off for me which is what I was told would happen, so far, so good, though I wouldn't want to feel like this long term. I'm willing to trade 4 weeks of this for relief from the vertigo, and was led to believe that in 95% of cases this will eliminate the vertigo altogether. Seems too good to be true, although going thru this is no picnic, I wouldn't want to feel like this long term. I was hoping to find someone who could corroborate a similar experience in the 4 weeks after the injection, and who could tell me if their vertigo had recurred after a low dose treatment. Thanks. Paul

The only place that I had heard about it was from Dr. Hain’s website (a wonderful resource for Meniere’s disease). He suggests one or two shots a month apart as opposed to the high dose where there are 4 to 6 shots. The advantage of the low dose as opposed to the high dose according to Dr. Hain is there is less risk involved with the low dose. He also says that he has had a lot of success with the low dose gentamicin.

If anyone has had any experience with the low dose gentamicin I would certainly appreciate any feedback