Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear, characterized by vertigo or dizziness, inner ear pressure, low-frequency hearing loss, tinnitus and nausea.
Because attacks of vertigo appear suddenly, without warning, the syndrome can be unnerving. Episodes may last from a few hours to 24 hours, and are completely debilitation, leaving sufferers unable to work, drive or even walk normally. Hearing in the affected ear tends to fluctuate and eventually worsens. Currently, there is no cure.
The good news in all this? Research shows that chiropractic are is an effective, all-natural strategy for alleviating Meniere’s disease. Dr. Greif wants patients to know about this exciting research.
What causes Meniere’s disease?
The cause isn’t well understood. The culprit may be abnormal fluid volume in the inner ear, but the factors that actually cause this change are unknown.
Who gets it?
Anyone can get Meniere’s disease; from children to seniors. However, those in their 40’s and 50’s are primarily affected.
What Role Might the Spine Play?
Let’s start with a little neck vertebrae 101. Dr. Greif explains to patients that the upper spinal vertebrae of the neck are called cervical vertebrae. The two cervical vertebrae lying directly beneath the skull are known as C1 and C2. These bones are chiefly responsible for rotation and flexibility of the head and neck.
If these vertebrae become even slightly displaced or their motion restricted, vertigo may ensue. Why? Many nerves transmit through the upper cervical spine to and from the brain. Dysfunction in this region may disturb the natural flow of nerve impulses. This may trigger multiple problems throughout the body. Unless the neck misalignment is addressed; symptoms, such as vertigo, persist.
Misalignment without Injury?
Yes, C1 and C2 can become misaligned in the absence of injury. These two vertebrae have a challenging day job. The head relies on these bones to move and support its weight, which can equal that of a light bowling ball! That’s a daunting task, especially considering C1 and C2 only weigh a few ounces.
How Does Chiropractic Help?
Chiropractic care focuses on correcting vertebral subluxations, dysfunctional segments of the spine and neck. It’s a condition that occurs when vertebrae are out of place or not functioning properly. Through chiropractic adjustments; maneuvers specially designed to restore motion and correct misaligned vertebrae, doctors of chiropractic (such as Dr. Greif) are able to correct subluxations.
And the great news? Realigning vertebrae, especially C1 and C2, may reduce or eliminate vertigo.
It’s All Connected
Just how connected are misalignments in the cervical vertebrae to symptoms related to Meniere’s disease, such as vertigo, tinnitus, ear pressure and hearing loss? They may be very much related, according to researchers.
In a study of 259 patients with “well defined” upper cervical subluxations and vertigo, 15% suffered significant hearing loss. And a substantial 40% experienced loss of hearing in lower frequencies. Of the group, 62 underwent chiropractic care and enjoyed dramatic improvements. “Results indicate that these hearing disorders are reversible…The therapy of choice is chiropractic manipulation of the upper cervical spine.” Authors of the study concluded.[i]
Get Your Head on Straight
No pun intended: Research shows that chiropractic can help you get your head on straight, literally.
In one report, a 75 year old woman with a history of vertigo, tinnitus and hearing loss sought chiropractic care. Five weeks before initiating care, her symptoms had progressively intensified. Researchers noted significant decreases in hearing and misalignment in the upper cervical spine.
“Through the course of [upper cervical-specific chiropractic] care, the patient’s symptoms were alleviated, structural and functional improvements were evident through radiographic examination, and audiologic function improved.”
The conclusion was that “the clinical progress documented in this report suggests that upper cervical manipulation may benefit patients who have tinnitus and hearing loss.[ii]
Research indicates that Meniere’s disease has a clear association with dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). TMJ is the joint between the head of the lower jawbone and the temporal bone.
Patients with TMJ disorders are likely to suffer from tinnitus and vertigo, muscular tension in the jaw and neck, as well as pain in the face, temples or jaw. One study found that “many of such patients also had symptoms of cervical spine disorders, head, neck and shoulder pain, and limitations in side bending and rotation were also frequent complaints. One-third of these patients could influence tinnitus by jaw movements and 75% could trigger vertigo by head or neck movements.[iii]
Fortunately, chiropractic care is a tried and true method of eliminating TMJ disorders.
Other All-Natural Solutions
In addition to chiropractic care, here are some other all-natural remedies.
Emotional stress is strongly tied to Meniere’s disease. When 110 Meniere’s patients completely multiple anxiety and stress profiles. All subjects demonstrated more daily stressors, employed fewer coping strategies, suffered from increased anxiety and depression, and had a worse quality of life compared to healthy reference groups.[iv]
Reduce Salt Intake
Excess sodium increases fluid retention. Limiting salt consumption may help, based on the theory that Meniere’s disease symptoms may result from excess fluid in the inner ear. Read product labels to determine salt content and avoid any foods with MSG (monosodium glutamate).
Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotine
Patients report that eliminating alcohol, caffeine and nicotine can do wonders to reduce symptoms.
In addition to reducing stress, exercise improves balance, circulation, blood flood, and muscle strength. Exercises that bolster coordination, such as walking or running, are very beneficial for Meniere’s sufferers.
Start slowly with exercises to improve vertigo. Begin by maintain balance with standing still. Then, move on to exercises that improve balance while swaying, turning and walking, neck and head exercises will boost sense of balance and improve vertigo.
Drinking an adequate amount of water may alleviate two key symptoms of Meniere’s disease: vertigo and hearing. In a two year study, 18 Meniere’s disease patients drank 35 Ml/kg of water per day, while 29 Meniere’s sufferers consumed a conventional amount of fluid and took a diuretic.
Individuals in the water group enjoyed “dramatically relieved vertigo and significantly improved hearing,” compared to controls. “Deliberate modulation of the intake of water may be the simplest and most cost-effective medical treatment for patients with Meniere’s disease.”[v]
Antioxidants fight off the destructive effects of cell-damaging “free radicals”.
Research indicates that patients with Meniere’s disease may have “a high concentration of free radicals and low natural defenses (e.g., antioxidant plasmatic capacity).” In the study, patients with tinnitus were divided into three groups: control, conventional therapy and antioxidant treatment, “and those in the antioxidant treatment group, especially those with Meniere’s syndrome, demonstrated a net and more significant improvement.”[vi]
[i] HNO 1994;42:604-13.
[ii] J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2000;23:352-62.
[iii] Prog Brain Res 2007;166:215-9.
[iv] Int J Audiol 2006;45:496-502.
[v] Laryngoscope 2006;116:1455-60.
[vi] Int Tinnitus J 2003;9:104-8.