Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bad storms and tinnitus

One of the most common side effects of Meniere’s disease is tinnitus, where you hear a buzzing or grating sound in your ears. The constant noise can drive you crazy and it makes it difficult to do things. For some folks the sound is always there, in my case I don’t have it all the time but I occasionally have it. Usually my tinnitus comes right before an attack, sort of a warning system that something is about to happen. Another thing that brings on tinnitus with me, as I found out this week, is bad storms.

I live in the Atlanta area and as you probably have seen on the news there were massive thunderstorms, hail, hard rain and many tornados. Luckily we were in a location that was spared from tornados and hail but we did get the heavy rain and thunderstorms. The storm didn’t hit our area till late at night but the air pressure and the wind arrived much earlier than that and so did my bout of tinnitus. I guess it was around 6 o’clock in the evening when my ears, especially my bad one, started to become full. Shortly after that the sound in my ears started to get louder and the fullness was as if I was at a very high altitude. There wasn’t much that I could do but ride it out.

But after seeing all the damage and hearing about the loss of life the next day on the news I can definitely say that we were very lucky. It was terribly sad to see the vast destruction that this storm caused. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy.

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  1. I live in Delaware and we have heavy rain moving through today. I started getting the pressure in my ears yesterday evening before a drop of rain was even in the vicinity. The pressure and feeling of fullness in both of my ears is bad today and I will be very glad when the storm has passed.

  2. I live in western Mass and have been dealing with this disease over 10 years. It wasn't until after my most recent attack that I became aware that the barometric pressure might have had an effect on my symptoms. I was speaking with my doctor and he casually said "we have had a lot of rain lately". I didn't know the weather could make a difference. I learn something new about this disease everyday.

  3. I don't think there are any studies about weather patterns and Meniere's, which is kind of crazy. Most doctors will tell you that there are mountains of anecdotal evidence from their patients showing their symptoms get much worse when barometric pressure drops. I know mine do, and my doctor confirmed that a lot of her patients have the same experience.

    Here's another interesting factoid: My doctor says ALL of her Meniere's patients are dizzy now, because of allergy season and all the pollen that's around now.

    You never know what will set it off, but anything that affects the pressure in your head seems to be a shoe-in.

  4. On April 27 we too had a bad storm in Knoxville TN. After four years of being Meniere's vertigo free it returned suddenly on this one day. I had no control whatsoever over my eyes, balance, or stomach. I was taken immediately to my ENT for the only thing that stopped it instantly four years ago...a steroid shot in my ear. I strongly believe the barometric pressure brought on the symptoms. I've noticed that is the only time my ear feels full. Tennessee has been hit with some pretty bad storms this year. Looks like I need to learn to be a meteorologist now or move to where it’s dry.

  5. Well, I agree that the weather might have something to do with it, but I think the best hope of controlling the disease is with diet. We have to get away from pre-processed food. I do much better when I stick to my diet for fresh fruits and veggies, chicken, and whole grains. Also, I try to stay away from caffeine and alcohol. It sounds boring but it's worth it.
    Take care.

  6. Today I had a severe attack of dizziness during a school day which is pretty awful because I am a first grade teacher. I sat down in a chair and got some help from the office and then went into the restroom and vomited for an hour. I know you know what I'm talking about. I'm now surfing all over to come up with my next steps because I have to find some action to take so this doesn't interfere with my job again. I've been looking over all the comments on this tremendous site. The weather/barometer is something I hadn't considered. My last episode was about a year ago at about this time. There has been significant rain and weather in Chicagoland this year which causes my left ear to feel full. And then, the dizzy episode. I just wanted to say I so appreciate
    David and all of you who post on this site because it's lonely out there feeling that I have this problem that no one understands. Thanks.

  7. Hi Hollyk,
    meniere's disease attacks do seem to hit at the worse times, especially at work. you might want to check with your ENT about any meds that might give you some relief.

    stay in touch and let us know how you are doing.

  8. Holly, so sorry you are going through this. I can imagine how hard it would be for a teacher of young children to have to deal with this.

    Since you are in Chicago, I would really suggest you try to see Dr. Timothy Hain... he has an extensive website and business surrounding Meniere's and other balance issues, and he might be able to provide treatment or advice. And he happens to be in Chicago. I don't know if he has other ENT specialists working with him in his practice.

    It really IS lonely, isn't it? There are times when I feel as if even my husband doesn't understand, although he has been wonderful about all of this for the two years since my symptoms became really disruptive. It can be difficult for friends and family to grasp what you are struggling with; but bear in mind that the people who stand by you are the ones who really love you. And be gentle and supportive with yourself. It's easy to start feeling "defective" when you have this, but you aren't.

    I understand the fear and frustration. And I think you can make other people in your life understand, too. But it's tough.

  9. I was actually googling abt meniere's and barometric pressure when i came across this blog. I've been diagnosed 4 abt a year, but had the disease for abt 6yrs. I'm now 33 and have lost almost 70dB of hearing in my right ear. As if that wasn't enough...I have come to notice that when any bad storms come thru, I too have pretty severe vertigo. I have also had 'drop attacks' as my Dr calls them. So, I stay on valium daily and a low-salt diet.

    However, I live in eastern NC so we have alot of storms and 2day 4 the 1st time I had an attack pretty sudden while driving. I was very close to home and made it there. But, when I got out of the car I just fell and well- I'm sure u all know what it's like to have a full-blown attack.

    The Dr's basically just say this is the nature of the disease and there's not much they can do--but with 3 young kids, I feel like that is just not good enough for me! I'd love to know if any of you have found success in treating this disease?


  10. Jamie, I wish I had a better answer for you, but so far I don't feel like I've had much success in treating Meniere's, which I've had for about 10 years, with really bad symptoms starting two years ago. I was incapacitated for nearly a year with full-blown attacks coming every few days, sometimes in the middle of the night, and we tried all the treatments following a traditional protocol. Nothing was helping much.
    Last year my doctor recommended I have a labyrinthectomy to sever the vestibular nerve in my left ear. I've only had one attack since then (October 2010) but I still have ongoing dizziness and nystagmus (the rapid bouncing eye movement that goes with vertigo).
    I'm really relieved not to be throwing up three or four times a week and able to move around somewhat successfully. But I'm enormously frustrated that there are still SO many things I can't do, and I never, ever feel really well any more. I can't concentrate on work, can't hold a job, and have difficulty pursuing a social life or hobbies.
    The next move for me is to see a neuro-ophthalmologist in the hope she can help me with the nystagmus and chronic dizziness. I'm not sure if this will work, or if my ENT specialist has simply thrown up her hands and given up on finding an effective way to stop the symptoms within her area of expertise.

    I would recommend you keep after it with your doctor(s), seek advice from new doctors if you don't feel you're getting the results you want, and just hang in there. You have to keep pushing if you want to get somewhere. It's really hard work, but I think you will make at least some progress if you are very, very proactive (much as I hate that corporate jargon word).
    Good luck!

  11. I had my first attack in two months. I thought I was controlling things with my diet but it has been raining for two days... How do you control the weather?

  12. Hi Mary,
    thats a good question:)

  13. It seems like any little amount of stress good or bad ,plus change of weather sets me up so good for the full ear ,ringing in the ears and a great need to get med's taken and go to bed. My meds are HTZ 12.5 mg. and 5mg. of lorazapam.
    My sleep is affected and really need to get a good nights sleep in order to function the next day. MY ENT says it's possable i may need one of those tubes in the ear to drain it like they put in litttle kids with so many ear infections. Anyway it just goes on and on and you learn what you can do and what situations to avoid, but the weather does present a very big problem. You can run but you can't hide!!!!

  14. Things I've tried that helped(over 3 years):

    Low salt diet, low carb diet, no pop,
    Meclazine ( but I had to take it every 3 hours), Valium(slowed or stopped bad attacks!)
    Less tv, less telephone, less computer, less driving, move and turn slowly.
    I avoid restaurants,crowds & loud noises when possible.
    As the Menieres progressed to incapacitating I had Sac Decompression Surgery.
    It worked.. so that I no longer have daily violent attacks, and is the LEAST invasive of the surgeries.
    I can work again.
    I still have imbalance and a strange feeling like I may go into a big attack..but then I just don't. Also still have tinnitus, ear pressure, weird brain/head feeling, and don't sleep well..but I'll take that over violent vertigo anyday.
    Good luck to all you guys!

  15. Storms affect me badly. Rain,snow ice Any change in pressure & I'm having attacks. Elevation does the same thing but not quite as bad. Anything higher than the 1st floor & I drop. Recently my daughter had to see DR on 2nd floor & I managed ok & was delighting in not having a public attack when a baby crawled to the edge of the floor ( crazy circular story with big open center, it had plexiglass across the bars) For some reason I have an immediate attack. Was it my normal elevation or panic induced stress from seeing a baby close to edge of height?

  16. I have had this disease for 4 year now and ever suffering and living in kansas with the pressure systems coming in the low pressures systems are what gives me vertigo attacks we decided to move to California to see if we could make a better life here without the vertigo attack caused by all the low pressure weather systems that would come through. After living here in this dry climate I have to say that I do not suffer from the vertigo attack that I did which is good because I feel like I can be a mother again to my children. But I can say that I still have the tinnitus, ear pressure and the weired brain fog.

  17. I can imagine that the storms in Kansas would be terrible for anyone with disorders like meniere's. It is good to hear that the move has helped greatly.
    thanks for commenting and stay in touch.

  18. Have you ever tried the Meniett Device? My ENT recommended I try it and I've had the good fortune to have it work for me for years now.

  19. I started tracking the 'storm effect' a few years ago with a spreadsheet; everyday, barometric, weather, 1-10 rating of tinnitus, etc. After a year, a lot of data was spot on. 30-35% was not. Daggone.

    Then I discovered the 'squeeze effect'. Instead of concentrating on the weather immediately on top you, take a look at the highs and contrasting lows a hundred miles of so out from your location. 200? Those areas are concentrated over 'their' areas but 'their' boundaries extend out from their center or path.

    Where the boundaries of the two (or more) weather centers meet is where the two weather pods meet and subsequently cause a 'squeeze' between the two fronts.

    Where that weather squeeze line crosses over your topographic area, you just might experience a significant tinnitus experience due to the squeeze effect of the two weather masses.

  20. I rarely get bouts of severe tinnitus but here in Thailand during the monsoon season we really do get severe rain and intense low-pressure weather fronts that cause a lot of ringing in the ear and a congested feeling in my right ear. Facial and temple-region twitching also accompany. When the extreme weather fronts pass so the tinnitus subsides. No cure unfortunately.

  21. I have had Meniere's disease for 24 years. Had 3 ENG's and it was confirmed. Thought about surgery, but didn't want to lose my hearing. Seven years ago I moved from CA to Western NC. Developed severe tinnitus 24/7 and just recently with the multiple weather fronts passing through have had some very severe attacks of vertigo. I have been taking 5mg valium as needed for over 20 years and it is my "go to" med when this happens. It's doing pretty well right now keeping the vertigo in check. I saw one post about sac surgery. What is that?

  22. Sac decompression is a surgical procedure designed to alleviate pressure in the inner ear from excessive retention of endolymphatic fluid. It is considered one of the non-destructive surgical options, in that it leaves the hearing and balance functions intact. But I have heard that it usually provides temporary relief. Someone who has had it done could tell you more about that.

    Here is a link that gives more detail:

  23. I had the sac decompression, and it didn't work for me. My ENT said the success rate is about 2/3, with about 10% of people getting worse because of it. I was one of the lucky 10%, and ended up with quite a bit of hearing loss, tinnitus 24/7, and the vertigo attacks were worse. I know of quite a few people who had better experiences.

    The recovery wasn't bad; it took me about a week to get back to functioning well (minus the terrible vertigo attacks that started about 9 days after surgery). Even hours after the surgery, I wasn't too incapacitated.

  24. The craziest lightning storm just passed over my house. Now I have what can only be described as tinnitus. It's incredibly loud. 5am and I feel like I'm going crazy I've looked all over to see if it's something turned on but no, it's literally IN my head! What can I do ??? I've heard this before but never this loud.