Author Topic: Possible causes--and treatments--of Meniere's symptoms  (Read 39680 times)

Offline Taximom5

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Hello!

I compiled some information for another forum (www.menieres.org, where some of us have been able to find causes and cures for our symptoms), and thought it might be helpful for some over on this side of the pond.

I thought it might be a good thing to have a comprehensive list of approaches that have worked for members here, as well as REASONS and EXPLANATIONS why they help.  I would especially like to include things that most of our doctors SHOULD have addressed but ignored.

Please post any corrections you may have, or any additions you would like to make, and I'll edit them in.  I wrote mostly about the ones that have worked for me or that I am familiar with, and I know this list is far from complete!


PREFACE:


The classic symptoms include:
tinnitus
fluctuating hearing loss
dizziness/vertigo
a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear

Known causes of those same symptoms (in no particular order):
B12 deficiency
allergy (food, inhaled, pollen, mold, medication, could be allergy to anything)
side effect/reaction to medication
celiac disease/food intolerance
autoimmune disorders
Lyme Disease
fungal infection (usually a systemic yeast infection, aka candida)
viral infection (herpes viruses are the viruses most often associated with Meniere's symptoms)
head injury
neck/spine/shoulder injury
vaccine reaction

I know that vaccine reactions are a hot topic of debate, for many reasons.  To forestall arguments, I would like to direct you to this link http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14974438, which is a peer-reviewed case study of a vaccine reaction that resulted in the same symptoms as those of Meniere's.  Since vaccines may also be associated with several of the above listed causes of Meniere's symptoms, if your symptoms occurred very soon after a vaccine, I would encourage you to report this to your doctor and to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System:  http://vaers.hhs.gov/esub/index).  You do NOT need to be a medical professional to report a reaction to VAERS.



The following approaches to treating Meniere's symptoms are in no particular order:

1) VITAMIN  B12 DEFICIENCY
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause dizziness, tinnitus, hearing loss, and headache.

People at significantly increased risk of B12 deficiency include vegans, people with digestive problems, people who have taken acid blockers (such as Prilosec, Zantac, etc), and people with autoimmune disorders.  B12 is not plentiful in vegetable sources, so vegans should be sure to take a good supplement. Acid blockers block the acid needed to properly process B12; unfortunately, while every B12 Deficiency website mentions this as one of the most common causes of B12 deficiency, it is not listed on the package insert of any acid blocker, and doctors don't seem to be aware of this. People with digestive disorders don't properly absorb nutrients from food or even from vitamins, and people with autoimmune disorders nearly always have intestinal malabsorption problems as well, often "silent" ones (with no noticeable intestinal symptoms).

Doctors in the US are also a bit confused about how to diagnose B12 deficiency. Current guidelines for blood work list serum levels of 200-122 as being normal, and below 200 to be deficient.  However, below 200 defines pernicious anemia, an extremely serious condition of B12 deficiency.  Other countries, such as Japan, consider that levels under 650 require treatment, citing that levels under 500 can be linked with neurological damage. (Interestingly, Japan has the lowest number of Alzheimer cases--and Alzheimer's is linked with B12 deficiency.)

It is possible to have normal serum B12 levels, yet still be B12-deficient if one is deficient in intrinsic factor, which is necessary for proper utilization of the serum B12.

My suggestion here would be to ask your doctor to test your serum B12 levels, and for you to insist on getting a copy of the results.  My own experience was that my doctor told me that my B12 was fine--and he considered 200 to be fine.  There is a separate test for intrinsic factor antibodies.

2) VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
This is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies--and it is also one of the most commonly underdiagnosed. It is especially common in climates with colder winters and less sunshine, and it is also linked with most autoimmune disorders.  Meniere's is often considered to be an autoimmune disorder (though they're really not sure), and it also linked with many autoimmune disorders.

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is far superior to Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), as it is much more easily absorbed, more stable, and longer duration of action.  Here again, vegans don't fare as well, as D2 is the vegan version. It is also the only form used in prescription vitamin D.  However, exposure to sunlight enables the body to synthesize its own vitamin D.

3) FOOD INTOLERANCES
Many people here have found that certain foods trigger Meniere's symptoms.  The most common offending food seems to be wheat.  The protein in wheat is called gluten, and it is also found in other grains (barley, rye, and oats).

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten, and  increasingly common symptoms reported in celiac forums include tinnitus, dizziness, and hearing loss.  The anecdotal evidence indicates that removing gluten from the diet eliminates symptoms. Celiac Disease has historically been defined by the results of an intestinal biopsy, but the trend is now to diagnose it by blood work, which looks for antibodies to gluten as well as endomysial antibodies (andtibodies against oneself).  Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance are often used interchangeably to describe the same set of symptoms; there is much debate on whether gluten intolerance is simply early-stage celiac or whether it is a separate condition, but the treatment is the same, either way--a gluten-free diet.

Celiac disease is one of the leading causes of intestinal malabsorption, and is linked with many other common autoimmune disorders, including thyroid disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and MS. Vitamin deficiencies are common to all of them.

While celiac is noted to CAUSE vitamin deficiencies, it is also possible that vitamin D deficiency likely plays a role in causing celiac, and perhaps other autoimmune conditions as well.

4) FUNGAL INFECTION
According to research done in Australia in 1996 (http://www.papadisc.com/MM_Nystatin.pdf), the yeast Candida albicans is an important opportunistic pathogen that has been associated with disease of the inner ear.  Board member Joe Slater (screen name:  PapaJoe) has compiled a list of scientific studies, showing the possibility of a fungal etiology for some vestibular disorders, here: http://www.papadisc.com/MM_Nystatin.pdf.  His own Meniere's symptoms turned out to have been caused by a systemic candida infection.  

5) SPINAL/NECK MISALIGNMENT
Many people on this board have reported remarkable results from chiropractic adjustments to the neck. Henry Sullivan started a very informative thread here http://www.menieres.org/forum/index.php/topic,3080.0.html.  He recommends specific technique known as NUCCA, but others have found relief from standard chiropractic care.

Please be aware that, just as in any medical field, there are doctors who are incompetent, and doctors who are more interested in $ than in their patients' health and well-being. Make sure you find several trusted people who recommend a specific chiropractor before going.  A good chiropractor can save your health and sanity; a bad one can destroy it.

6) SUPPLEMENTS
menieres.org/forum member and biology instructor John of Ohio has developed a regimen of supplements that has worked remarkably well for many members here.  His regimen appears here http://www.menieresresources.org/Resources/HomePage?action=download&upname=ANewApproachToMenieresDisease-TheJohnOfOhioRegimenJan2010.pdf
along with a detailed explanation of why each supplement can be helpful.  There is also a nice long thread where he has answered many technical questions: http://www.menieres.org/forum/index.php/topic,19349.0.html

7) Antivirals
There are many studies indicating a link between Meniere's symptoms and herpes viruses.  There are many kinds of herpes viruses.  Two of the most common are herpes simplex, and herpes zoster. Herpes zoster is actually the chicken pox virus, which never leaves your body, but goes dormant in one of your spinal nerves.  Stress can reactivate it as shingles--same virus, different presentation. At least one person here has noted an exposure to herpes zoster just before onset of Meniere's symptoms.

Interestingly, John of Ohio, noted above, addresses the herpes virus in his regimen, and recommends L-Lysine, which inactivates the herpes virus.

Papajoe has compiled a list of studies supporting a viral etiology of Meniere's:  http://www.menieres.org/forum/index.php/topic,22821.msg403200.html#msg403200

Papajoe's three-part list of scientific studies on the relationship between Meniere's and viruses:

Part I:
http://www.menieres.org/forum/index.php/topic,22570.0.html

Part II:
http://www.menieres.org/forum/index.php/topic,22571.0.html

Part III:
http://www.menieres.org/forum/index.php/topic,22572.0.html

This information is also available in PDF format:

http://www.papadisc.com/Menieres_Etiology_Viral.pdf

http://www.papadisc.com/Menieres_Efficacy_AntiViral.pdf


8) Low-salt diet
Most members have reported that it did not help them, but some members have reported that it made a huge difference, so it is worth trying.

9) Diuretics
This one is a bit controversial--some doctors and many members here swear they do nothing, but nwspin found a study that seems to indicate that it may be helpful:  
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3537899

10) Exercise (or lack thereof)
This is a bit of a head-scratcher, as nobody who is falling over with dizziness can imagine exercise of any kind!  However, as soon as you are feeling able to move, it does seem as though exercise is of utmost importance in warding off future attacks.  While my doctor told me that I should stay away from swimming pools at all costs, I found that swimming was more helpful than most other exercise.  In fact, the minute I got in the pool, my head felt NORMAL.  I wish I could explain this, but I can't.  

A number of us have discovered that exercise has an immediate effect--usually good--on our symptoms.  This is sort of ironic, because the last thing one can imagine doing while one is dizzy, nauseated, vomiting, and listening to a dishwasher roaring in our ears, is--EXERCISE.  And when the symptoms are at their worst, it is literally impossible to stand up, let alone exercise.

However, it does seem that it is possible to stave off an attack by exercising--in some cases, trying strenuous exercise--at the first symptoms.

For myself, running and swimming are very effective.  Walking is much less so, but helpful nonetheless. In looking back, I found that my two attacks came at times when I was NOT exercising for a week or two.

I'm guessing that the increase in circulation is the helpful factor here.

10b)  Hydration

Dehydration can be a factor for many of us.  The best thing, I believe, is plain water.  For those of us who do strenuous exercises, we need to be very careful to stay hydrated!  Another factor here is that many people choose low-calorie/high caffeine sodas as their hydration source.  Caffeine can dehydrate you, and artificial sweeteners are strongly linked with neurological problems, including migraine.  When in doubt, leave it out!  (I mean the artificial sweeteners, not the water.)


11) Prescription Medications
(These, also, are in no particular order.)
     A) SERC (betahistine)
        
         (update 10/10) SERC is apparently available in Canada and Europe, and is widely prescribed there for Meniere's symptoms, apparently with quite a bit of success.  While it doesn't address the cause of symptoms, it seems to be effective at controlling the symptoms, perhaps more so than other prescription medications--which then begs the question, why isn't it available in the US?

         This drug (brand name Serc, chemical name betahistine), is advocated as a vestibular suppressant mainly for Meniere's disease. Curiously, Serc was approved by the FDA about 30 years ago for roughly 5 years, but later approval was withdrawn because lack of evidence for efficacy. Subsequently, three double-blind studies have been done reporting reduction of vertigo attacks with betahistine (Frew and Menon, 1976: Wilmot and Menon; 1976; Meyer, 1985). Nevertheless, these studies may have been flawed and a recent review suggested that it is presently still unclear if betahistine has any effect in Meniere's disease (James and Burton, 2001).

Serc was again reviewed by the FDA in June of 1999 (click here for details). Essentially, the conclusion seems to be that there is no evidence that it is harmful, but also little evidence that it has any therapeutic effect. It thus is similar in status to an inert substance. Serc is not sold through ordinary US pharmacy chains but it can be obtained through US compounding pharmacies, with a prescription. Some insurances may cover it too.
-----from http://www.tchain.com/otoneurology/treatment/serc.html

     B) Antihistamines, such as Meclizine

     C) Valium and Klonopin, which I am told calm down the auditory nerve and other nerve misfirings in the brain (I'll try to look that one up when I have more time to give more "official" info on this one), and Verapamil, which is a calcium channel blocker.  These drugs, according to the studies posted on page 2 of this thread, appear to help improve symptoms over a period of several months for over 50% of those studies.  Please note that a similar number report improved symptoms if they do nothing. Side effects of the drugs are listed on page 2 of this thread.

12) Acupuncture
So far, one member has reported good results with this.  I've never tried it for Meniere's, but have tried it twice for other physical ailments, and it was very, very helpful.  However, I have also heard that it can be harmful if the practitioner is not extremely skilled.

13) posture/position
This is actually somewhat related to 4) (neck/spinal misalignment).

Do you hunch over your computer with your neck bent forward?  Well, most of us do--but it's the worst thing you can do to your neck, according to my chiropractor. It takes the weight of your head (imagine a bowling ball) and disperses it in such a way that your neck is subject to far greater psi than if you were standing up straight.  (Imagine balancing a bowling ball (instead of your head) on top of your neck, but at a 45 degree angle instead of straight up and down.

Since you are likely reading this on your computer, sit up straight.  NOW.  Now take your shoulders and raise them up by your ears, let them flop down, and rotate them back. Make sure your head is sitting ON TOP of your neck, not stuck out front.

Do you feel any different?

The second worst thing you can do for your neck is to watch TV in bed, because you are likely to be doing pretty much the same thing with head and neck as you are doing right now in front of the computer.

So the suggestion here would be, if you must spend many hours in front of the computer, stop and stretch often, and pay close attention to your posture.

14) TMJ/bite alignment
A recent post from a Swedish member sounds promising: http://www.menieres.org/forum/index.php/topic,26642.0.html
The idea is that a bite misalignment may cause or exacerbate Meniere's symptoms. Check out the simple exercise described here and see if it helps!

15) Vitamin C Megadose
This is addressed in John of Ohio's regimen, but I thought it deserved a separate mention here. Please read about it in here: http://www.menieres.org/forum/index.php/topic,23421.0/topicseen.html and you might also want to read Solari's thread about it: http://www.menieres.org/forum/index.php/topic,24546.msg453985/boardseen.html#new

16)  Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

      I don't know if any members here have tried this, but it looks extremely promising!
http://www.oxybiotech.net/files/Article-HBOT-Menieres.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=hyperbaric%20meniere's&itool=QuerySuggestion

17) Cell/Cordless Phone Radiation Overexposure

According to http://www.rense.com/health3/cell3.htm, "Dozens of medical research studies have also concluded that the microwave frequencies coming into the heads of cell phone users are enough to cause neurological changes in brains that can produce fatigue, dizziness and loss of concentration."

So I started googling, and have found the following:

http://www.webmd.com/news/20070919/cell-phones-may-cause-hearing-loss
http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/533259/
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,297460,00.html
http://www.cancer-health.org/Cellular_phone_symptoms.html
http://www.mercola.com/forms/ferrite_beads.htm
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/09/03/Brain-Damage-From-Mobile-Phone-Radiation.aspx

On a personal note, I complained to my ENT that when I used my cell phone, the side of my head would feel hot, and I would notice headaches and ringing in the ear on the affected side.

He rolled his eyes.  

I found another ENT after that, and also stopped using my cell phone unless it was on speakerphone.

Is anybody besides me wondering why we don't hear about this from our ENT's, if not the news media?

And one final link--if you spend hours on the phone (cell, landline, cordless, corded), and hold the phone between your ear and shoulder, that would definitely screw up your cervical-spinal alignment.  And many people do just fine with cervical-spinal misalignment.  But most of us reading this thread are reading it because we are NOT fine.

P.S. ACRONYMS
Many acronyms are used on this board!  For a helpful thread on acronyms, please see http://www.menieres.org/forum/index.php/topic,128.0.html

Offline Elaine

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Re: Possible causes--and treatments--of Meniere's symptoms
« Reply #1 on: Dec 08 2011, 11:55 PM »
I have locked this topic pending discussion by the moderating team
Elaine