Easing the Waves: A Practical Guide on How to Support Someone with Meniere’s Disease

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7 months ago

Meniere’s Disease in the elderly

Meniere’s disease is one of the major causes of dizziness among the elderly population. Thought to be a disease of the younger population. Meniere’s disease affects our elderly population as well. It is a type of chronic disease, characterized by spells of dizziness along with tinnitus, and hearing loss. Often, Meniere’s disease exhibits a non – specific pattern of symptoms, making a diagnosis of the condition difficult. This is because, dizziness and hearing loss can be a resultant reaction of many other diseases. Which in turn makes the diagnosis of the condition tricky.

Understanding Meniere’s disease – Causes and risk factors defined

Meniere’s disease, abbreviated as MD, is a form of inner ear disorder. It massively affects the balance of the elderly. There is a buildup of fluid in the inner ear. Which consequently increases the pressure and causes damage to some of the delicate structures inside the ear. MD causes recurrent bouts of rotational vertigo, which comes with tinnitus and hearing loss. In the initial stages, hearing loss may not be very significant. However, as the disease progresses, there may be some form of permanent hearing loss.

Factors that cause MD

The exact factors that cause MD still remain unsure. Over the years, several research trials have tested, which have tried to establish a relation between MD and other diseases. Some trials conclude a raised endolymphatic pressure, also known as hydrops to be the reason behind the development of MD. Although, there are not many studies to support such a kind of finding. Recent studies have pointed towards a migraineto be one of the main contributory factors towards the occurrence of MD. The prevalence of a migraine is higher in the MD affected population, as compared to their normal counterparts.

Symptoms of Meniere’s disease

The type and form of symptoms experienced differ from one elderly to another. While some may experience a cluster of symptoms over a period of several weeks in a row and stay symptomless for years together. On the other hand, some elderly with MD may continue to experience symptoms for years together. In many cases, the symptoms become so severe, that it cripples the everyday life of our elderly.

Seniors with MD will experience all or any of the following symptoms:

Dizziness and vertigo, that often takes a severe turn. The effects will occur in the sense of balance. It may appear as if the entire room is twisting or turning at a high speed. Such a kind of feeling can last for a few hours to several days. This particular symptom is extremely disabling for our seniors. It affects their sense of balance to an extent that it can cause harm or they could fall and injure themselves. After vertigo fades away, the sense of imbalance can still linger on for several days.
Tinnitus is a condition characterized by hearing a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear.
An episode of vertigo may have symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Hearing loss, which is progressive in nature.

Trigger factors for Meniere’s disease

Though the exact cause of MD still remains unclear. Scientists have postulated various factors, that can trigger the development of the disease. These factorsinclude:
Infection of the inner or middle ear
Injury to the head
Stress
Alcohol abuse
Medications
Anxiety
Smoking
Migraines
Infection concerning the respiratory system
Viral infections
If you find your loved one is at risk for any of the above-mentioned factors, it is time to take immediate action.

Treating Meniere’s disease

The following treatments are usually followed for managing Meniere’s disease.
Medications: Doctors usually prescribe medication for lessening the severity of a vertigo attack. Motion sickness medicine are also prescribed for nausea and dizziness spells. Medications such as diuretics are also prescribed. This lessens the fluid buildup in the ear. In severe cases, doctors may recommend gentamicin injections. Which are directly injected into the middle ear to improve the symptoms of vertigo. If required, steroid injections can also help.
Dietary modification: It is one of the interesting modifications. One can consider to manage Meniere’s disease since fluid buildup in the ears forms the basis of the disease. Reducing the amount of salt in the diet will help a lot in the effective management of the condition. Therefore, doctors recommended to go low on salt intake. This help lessen the degree of fluid retention.
Non – invasive procedures: This include hearing aids to help people with MD. As the name suggests, hearing aids improve the hearing problem in the elderly. A Meniett device is helpful to improve the fluid exchange mechanism in the middle ear.
Sugar: This is usually the last resort when all other treatments fail to minimize the symptoms of MD. Three types of surgical procedures are available to treat MD. These are the endolymphatic sac procedure, vestibular nerve suction, and labyrinthectomy.

Helping the elderly during an attack of Meniere’s disease

An attack of Meniere’s disease can be very taxing. owing to the episode of vertigo and associated nausea and dizziness. This can cause our elderly to remain in a bad shape for several days together. The following things can help during the attack.
Help your elderly to lie on a flat surface, usually a floor. If this is not a possibility, then make them lie on a bed.
Ask them to fix their eyes to an object that is not moving.
Help your elderly to get up, once they feel better.
Vomiting should usually subside within 24 hours. However, if this does not happen, then seek medical help immediately.
It is natural for your elderly to feel tired after suffering an attack. They would want to sleep for several hours after the attack. Allow them to take ample rest, and avoid tasks that would cause them to lose their balance.

Ways to cope with Meniere’s disease

Living with Meniere’s disease is not an easy task and is extremely frustrating for our seniors. The recurrent spells of vertigo couples with dizziness, can makes life miserable. The following tips can make life a bit easy for elderly living with MD.
Stress is one of the many trigger factors identified for MD. Therefore, adopting ways to keep stress at bay would be helpful in managing the condition.
Limiting the salt intake can help in minimizing the fluid build-up in the ears. Diuretics, along with a low sodium diet can help in treating the fluid retention inside the ears.
Alcohol abuse, caffeine, and smoking are some factors that have a positive association with MD. Working towards avoiding these, can also help the elderly better manage the condition.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Meniere’s disease. Various medications and other treatment strategies can minimize the severity of symptoms. The main objective of treatment is to successfully reduce the number of attacks. By doing so, the progressive loss of hearing and dizziness can stop to a great extent. For more information check out this post on vertigo.

 

The post Easing the Waves: A Practical Guide on How to Support Someone with Meniere’s Disease appeared first on Caregiving Secrets.

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Jordan M
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