Meniere’s disease affects over 600,000 women in the US every year. It is a dysfunction in the inner ear, and usually affects only one ear. Unfortunately, the disease is not curable, and it can develop at any age. Commonly, when the disease occurs in women, it happens between 40 years old and 60 years old.
Since the cause of the disease is unknown, and every case is different, some may experience several of the symptoms, while another may have fewer symptoms and less frequent “attacks”. The common symptoms of Meniere’s disease include:
- Vertigo: Vertigo is very common and the most obvious symptom. With vertigo, you will feel dizziness, nauseous, you may experience an irregular heartbeat, profuse sweating, vomiting, and the feeling as if you or your surroundings are spinning. During an episode of vertigo, you never know if it will last for a few hours or for only a few minutes. There is no way to tell if vertigo is going to hit you, but you will know within a few minutes when an attack has occurred. During an attack, you may not be able to drive or swim, since you will likely feel dizzy.
- Loss of Hearing: Sensitivity to loud sounds and hearing loss may occur in the early stages of the disease. This can lead to long-term hearing loss and usually affects the patient more severely when the condition is unattended for long.
- Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a sound in the ear, which is not coming from anything. The sound can be a buzzing or ringing noise, or it can sound like hissing, roaring, or a high-pitched squeal.
Other symptoms of Meniere’s disease include migraines, headaches, loss of balance, and the feeling that your ear is plugged or full of liquid.
It can be difficult to diagnose Meniere’s disease, as it takes many tests to confirm the disorder. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, it is smart to schedule a visit to the nearby community healthcare center as soon as possible. You will have a physical exam done, and you will be asked a series of questions, so that your women’s healthcare doctor can advise the correct treatment.
Some of the questions you may be asked by your primary care doctor include:
- The kind of symptoms you are experiencing
- The medications you are currently taking, if any
- How severe your symptoms are and how often do they occur?
- Have you had any issues in the past with your ear or with your hearing?