Facing Meniere's disease without fear

Life can be frustrating. For years, our lives move a long at a steady pace. We have our ups and downs, but life just marches on. Every once in a while though, we get blindsided. Tragedy tends to strike when we least expect it and often when we are most vulnerable.

This is the nature of Meniere’s disease. Everything is going just fine until one day it isn’t. In an instant, everything changes. First comes the fear of the unknown. The confusion of suffering from vertigo without explanation or context. If your stubborn like I was, this could go on for months. I suffered for more than four months before I ever accepted the fact that their was something wrong. It took more then one full blown vertigo attack before I ever made a doctors appointment.

Next comes the diagnosis. Hopefully you found a great Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor on your first try. I certainly didn’t. Your doctors mindset and bedside manner can make or break you when you get the news. I was broken the first time around. Either way, you learned the cold hard truth; you have an incurable illness called Meniere’s disease. A condition of the inner ear that causes vertigo, hearing loss, and a whole host of other debilitating symptoms. If you’re lucky, your doctor has offered you some hope and suggestions for treatment. If not, you were probably left with a feeling of hopelessness and despair.

You probably went home and Googled Meniere’s disease. Immediately you were swamped with pages and pages of conflicting and often terrifying reports. I ended up going deep down this rabbit hole. For hours I scoured the internet and message boards, with a sense of anxious dread building steadily in the pit of my stomach. Like many of you, I felt lost and hopeless, desperate for answers.

Because Meniere’s is an idiopathic disease, meaning the cause is unknown, even defining Meniere’s disease is complicated. There is no clear definition among experts and theories into what causes Meniere’s tend to vary wildly. To help simplify things, I’ve distilled down a basic definition:

Meniere’s disease is a condition where a patient experiences one or more of the following symptoms, with all known causes ruled out:

  • rotational vertigo (feeling as if the room is spinning)
  • a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears
  • progressive loss of hearing
  • hearing tones and sounds when there are none, commonly known as tinnitus.

The symptoms generally occur as individual episodes or “attacks” that vary in intensity and duration. During an episode, a patient may also experience nausea, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and recalling words otherwise known as “brain fog”, or a host of other symptoms. An episode can last anywhere from minutes to hours and typically leaves the patient feeling utterly exhausted when it’s over.

The most important thing to understand is when you have symptoms, something triggered those symptoms. The triggers differ from person to person but there are many commonalities. I will explore these triggers in another post but for now, its important to understand they exist and that discovering your triggers is the key to successful treatment.

It is 100% possible to get your symptoms under control and most likely easier then you anticipate. It will take courage and effort, but it is within your power. You are the only one who can make the changes necessary to thrive. Recognize your power and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. The path to health starts with taking the first step. Be brave, decide right now to do whats necessary to get better. Take that first step and never look back.

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