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CHAPTER 1: GENERAL INFORMATION

 

This page covers:

Section 26 - Meniere's Disease

Section 27 - Tinnitus

Click on the links in the left hand column to see the other sections

Section 26 - Meniere's Disease

Some people call this Meniere’s Disease, other people call it Meniere’s Syndrome and others just call it Meniere’s.

Ménière's Disease affects the inner ear.  It can affect both hearing and balance. It can cause episodes of vertigo (a sensation of whirling dizziness), hearing loss, tinnitus, and the sensation of fullness in the ear.

A symptom of Ménière's disease typically involves a whirling dizziness that forces the sufferer to lie down. These vertigo attacks can lead to severe nausea, vomiting, and sweating and often come with little or no warning.

The cause of Meniere’s Disease is unknown.  It is a progressive illness and the symptoms and frequency of bouts can vary between different people.

People who have Meniere’s Disease say they have found the following things helpful:

  1. Some people find that it helps to never do anything in a hurry but do everything deliberately. 
  2. Some people said that they found it best not to look to the side.
  3. Some people say that they never watch rapid movements as it can trigger an attack.
  4. Some people said that they try never to look down when walking or picking something up.
  5. Some people find it helps if they never move their head quickly.
  6. Many people recommended holding onto banisters when using the stairs.
  7. It can help to try to stay calm if you feel an attack coming on.
  8. Some people said they found it helpful to fix the eyes on something distant and walk towards it.
  9. Some people find it helpful to take a walking stick to help with their balance.
  10. Other people said that a stick made them feel old and instead used a long umbrella.
  11. One person said, “I avoid the centre of a noisy room as it makes me feel giddy as well as making hearing more difficult.”
  12. One person said she found it helpful to take a torch with her if she was likely to be out after dark.
  13. Several people said they’d found it helpful to reduce or try to cut out the amount salt in their diet.
  14. Some people said that they found that stopping smoking had helped.
  15. You may find it helpful to read R.F. McCall's Giddiness and Loss of Balance in her book "Speechreading and Listening Tactics" (Hale, 1984)
  16. The Meniere’s Society provides some information on Meniere’s.  Their contact details are as follows:

The Ménière's Society
The Rookery
Surrey Hills Business Park
Wotton
Dorking
Surrey
RH5 6QT
United Kingdom

Helpline: 0845 120 2975
Admin & minicom:
01306 876 883
Fax: 01306 876 057

Email: info@menieres.org.uk

Website: www.menieres.co.uk  Information on this website includes topics such as:

  • How Meniere’s affects you
  • Treatments
  • Self management
  • Vertigo and dizziness

Other sources of information about Meniere’s and its symptoms include:

  • British Tinnitus Association (if one of your symptoms is tinnitus)

The British Tinnitus Association
Ground Floor, Unit 5
Acorn Business Park,
Woodseats Close
Sheffield,
S8 0TB

Telephone: 0800 018 0527 free of charge
                         0845 4500 321 local rate
                         0114 250 9922 national rate within the UK

Minicom: 0114 258 5694

Fax: 0114 258 2279
           
email: info@tinnitus.org.uk

Website:  www.tinnitus.org.uk/

Organisations which are concerned with deafness in general may also provide information on Meniere’s Disease.  E.g. Action on Hearing Loss

Other information/factsheets about Meniere’s:

Action on Hearing Loss has a selection of factsheets on ear and ear health including one on Meniere's Disease.

NHS information: www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/23068962/

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Section 27 - Tinnitus

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the term used to describe noises in the ear or head which have no external explanation.

What people with tinnitus may experience varies from person to person. Some people only hear one noise, others hear several different sounds. The tinnitus may be heard in one ear or both ears.  The noises may be heard continuously or they may come and go or be worse when the person is feeling stressed.

The noises that people have described include ringing, buzzing, bells, music, whistling, humming, roaring and lots of others.  Some people experience pulsatile tinnitus – where the noise follows the same rate as the person’s heartbeat.

What causes tinnitus?

The exact cause of tinnitus is unknown, but it is often associated with some form of hearing loss.

Long exposure to loud noise (e.g. after a night out at a club playing very loud music) can leave a “ringing in the ears” or other tinnitus noise. This may be temporary and go away after a day or so, but repeated or constant exposure to loud noise can damage hearing irreparably.  So tinnitus after exposure to loud noise should be taken as a warning sign.

Action on Hearing Loss has a section on their website which tells you how you can protect your hearing from loud noise.

What should I do if I think I have tinnitus?

If you think you may have tinnitus, it may be a good idea to see your doctor in case something treatable is causing it. 

Treating tinnitus

If there is an underlying cause for the tinnitus then this will need to be treated. If there is no apparent cause that can be treated, then the following ideas may be helpful:

Wearing hearing aids: Many people who have tinnitus also have a hearing loss. Wearing a hearing aid may make it easier for some people to hear the sounds they need to hear by making them louder. People are less likely to notice their tinnitus if they are better able to hear other people talking or listen to music.

Maskers: These are small devices that use sound to make tinnitus less noticeable. Maskers do not make tinnitus go away, but they create external noise to distract the person and so make the noise(s) seem less noticeable.

An ordinary radio, TV or CD/tape player can act in the same way as a masker – providing external noise to distract the person from their tinnitus

Medicine: Some medicines may ease tinnitus. If your doctor prescribes medicine to treat your tinnitus, he or she can tell you whether the medicine has any side effects.

Tinnitus retraining therapy: This treatment uses a combination of counselling and maskers. The therapist can help you learn how to manage your tinnitus better. After undergoing tinnitus retraining therapy some people find they have learnt how to avoid thinking about their tinnitus.

Tinnitus support groups. Some people with tinnitus find that talking with a others with tinnitus can be helpful.

Relaxing. Learning how to relax is very helpful if the noise in your ears frustrates you. Stress makes tinnitus seem worse. By relaxing, you have a chance to rest and better deal with the sound.

 (Source: www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/noiseinear.asp )

Some people with tinnitus have tried some of the above strategies and also tried other strategies.  Here are some of the strategies that people found helped their tinnitus:

1. It can be helpful to be careful about the foods you eat.  For example, some people find that coffee and alcohol make their tinnitus worse.

2. Some sufferers have a whole range of sounds, some of which are permanent and some of which ebb and flow. Other noises come periodically. Reactions vary from great distress or simply frustration because all or some of the noises are disabling in that they make it impossible to hear.

One person said, “I believe that the best thing is to learn the habit of relaxation. I think anyone can do it with practice and training. I just let all the tension drain away. I got to know my sounds and the patterns of my sounds. Some are quite interesting! I try to recognise whether there is a pattern to the times they get worse. If so, is there a contributory factor, something that I can do something about? If so, I do something about it. Thus I have managed to do something about lessening some of them and I am learning to relax about what cannot be altered. It is bad enough to suffer from the tinnitus noises without also suffering from one's own distressed reactions.”

3.  When my tinnitus starts up, I find it helps to do something that needs concentration.  For example, I do a jigsaw puzzle or some embroidery.

4.  Some people find being in a very quiet room makes their tinnitus more noticeable.  Some said to combat this they usually have the radio on in the background.  Even though they may not be able to hear what is being said on the radio, it helps cover the noise of their tinnitus.

5.  I joined a local tinnitus self-help group.  We meet twice a month and share problems and strategies.

6.  A lot of information about tinnitus can be obtained from the British Tinnitus Association.    Their contact information is:

Telephone:    0800 018 0527 - free of charge
                        0845 4500 321 - local rate
                        0114 250 9922 - national rate

Minicom:          0114 258 5694

Fax:                  0114 258 2279

Write:             The British Tinnitus Association
                        Ground floor, Unit 5
                        Acorn Business Park
                        Woodseats Close
                        Sheffield
                        S8 0TB

Email:              info@tinnitus.org.uk

Website:           www.tinnitus.org.uk

7.  I use a Tinnitus Relaxer (available from the Action on Hearing Loss's Products) when I’m trying to get off to sleep.  I find it helps me if I listen to the soothing noises it makes as it makes my tinnitus less noticeable.

8.  My audiologist suggested Tinnitus Retraining Therapy.  I am so pleased she did! The tinnitus hasn’t gone away, but I am much less conscious of it now, and have found some strategies that help when it does get really bad.

What is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy? – Tinnitus retraining therapy encourages patients to concentrate less on the noise in their heads so that they notice it less

9.  One person said, “I find that I notice my tinnitus much more when I am stressed.  I find doing a few relaxation exercises can help lessen it, although it never goes away completely.” (Click here for more information on relaxation.)

10.  To see Action on Hearing Loss's information on tinnitus click here.

The following link will take you direct to information/factsheets about tinnitus
www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/23068863/

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