Meniere’s disease is characterized by a combination of symptoms including vertigo, loss of hearing in the affected ear, tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ear) and the feeling of fullness in the ear. Meniere’s is an episodic condition. Any of these symptoms may come and go at random, which makes coping with it particularly difficult to deal with. Making matters a bit more complex, there is no reliable diagnostic test designed to identify Meniere’s disease specifically.
The vertigo associated with Meniere’s disease can be one of the more difficult symptoms to live with day to day. Vertigo is the false sensation of movement when it feels as if either you are spinning or your environment is spinning around you. Vertigo attacks can be so severe that they are sometimes referred to as drop attacks, since a person may actually lose their balance and fall.
What Causes Meniere’s Disease?
Like many other health conditions, including other sources of vertigo, the exact causes of Meniere’s disease are not fully understood. What is known is that there is a buildup of excess fluid in the inner ear. This can be due to two possibilities:
- An excess production of fluid
- Inadequate absorption of fluid
There are suggestions that there may be multiple factors involved, including:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Family history of Meniere’s disease
- Trauma to the head or ear
Symptomatic treatment for vertigo and the associated nausea is typically accomplished using medications designed to interact with certain neurotransmitters to either block or enhance their effects. Sometimes a low salt diet in combination with a diuretic medication is also recommended in hopes that it will normalize the fluid balance in the inner ear. Despite the relief that Meniere’s disease and vertigo sufferers may achieve with these approaches, the fact is that they simply scratch the surface. They do not address any of the root cause of the problem.
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Head Trauma, Vertigo, and Meniere’s Disease
A good part of the research being done into Meniere’s disease centers around a common theme. Many Meniere’s sufferers, at some point in their lives, report experiencing an injury to the head or neck. This injury could be something as severe as a concussion, or something as seemingly innocuous as a fender bender in the parking lot.
In one particular study, of 60 chronic vertigo patients, 56 could recall at last one head or neck trauma in their past. These incidences included auto accidents, sports accidents (such as cycling, equestrian, or skiing), or a slip-and-fall type incident down stairs or on an icy sidewalk. One of the most interesting findings of this study, however, was the fact that it took anywhere between 1 and 27 years for the vertigo symptoms to develop. This means that it might be quite easy to overlook the potential connection between the initial injury and the subsequent development of symptoms, especially if several years have passed by.
The connection between head or neck injuries and vertigo-inducing Meniere’s disease lies within your body’s central nervous system. Your brain and body communicate with one another over a complex network of nerves spread throughout all parts of the body. Your brain relies on receiving correct information from the various parts of your body, including your eyes, ears, and limbs, in order to maintain balance. When it comes to vertigo, tinnitus, and other Meniere’s symptoms, any type of compromise in the signals received by the brain from the inner ear can develop as a result.
Most people know that the spine is designed to protect the delicate tissues of your nervous system. What some people don’t realize, however, is that through injury or wear and tear, the vertebrae of your spine can misalign and prevent the nerves from being able to communicate properly.
Addressing the Cause with Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care
In the research mentioned above where 60 chronic vertigo patients were studied, all of the participants underwent a course of upper cervical chiropractic care in order to correct the source of their symptoms at the root. Upper cervical chiropractic care is different in the sense that it addresses misalignments in a very particular part of the spine. The area where your head meets your neck is important for several reasons. Not only do the vertebrae here (your atlas and axis) account for the vast majority of your head’s ability to move around in all directions, but those two small bones protect an area of your nervous system called the brainstem. Branching off of the brainstem are nerves that are part of your vestibular system, the main neurological system that helps your body to maintain its sense of balance. If these upper cervical vertebrae misalign, it can have a negative influence on your body’s vestibular system and ability to balance properly, leading to vertigo symptoms.
Upper cervical chiropractic care also stands apart because the adjustments we make are designed to hold in place for as long of a period of time as possible. When your body is able to maintain normal upper cervical spinal alignment, any injured nerve tissues are given the necessary time they need to heal. When these nerves are once again able to communicate properly, the brain can receive the correct signals pertaining to how your body is positioned. If your atlas is out of alignment, our gentle methods of correcting it can be what it takes to achieve relief from the debilitating symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
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If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.
Dr. Andrea Pritchett of Vital Life Wellness Center in Dublin, California is an Dublin Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Specialist trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). Her upper cervical clinic also serves Pleasanton, Livermore, San Ramon and Danville. She is uniquely trained to correct problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems, including children’s conditions such as ear infections, colic and scoliosis and problems that adults face including migraines and other headaches, fibromyalgia, sciatica, neck and back pain, and more. More information can be found on our website at https://www.vlifewellness.com/