Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Meniere's Disease.

Note: I’m going to double post today because I’m eager to start writing about Fibro. While UC and MD are devastating illnesses, I have more experience with them and Fibro is still fairly new to me and has affected me more than the other two. I’ll still talk about UC and MD periodically, but this blog will primarily address my fibro. :)

I have a relatively large (Italian) family. In fact, I have more than 70 second cousins. Italians - they're family people.

 I am the product of the babies on both sides and the youngest of the first cousins (and most of the second). My family is very athletic and I always felt the need to follow suit.

We are a family made up of basketball players. At first, I resisted this and stuck to my love of dance, but eventually, I gave in around age 10.

I worked really hard at catching up to my peers, since they’d been playing much longer than me. I strived to make the “A team” my first year of middle school by competing in every league and attending every camp.

And I did it. I made the A team.

From that point on, I found myself in 3 leagues at a time, and at least two year round.

So what does this have to do with Meniere’s Disease?

Well, after a few years of playing, there came a point when I was no longer improving.

During one game, my mom noticed I was making odd swaying movements in the huddle, and afterward, she inquired about it. I explained that I was dizzy, and that swaying helped. I’d already been going through this for nearly a year, and I figured it was completely normal. One is bound to become a bit out of sorts when hauling ass up and down a court.

Regardless of what I thought of it, my mom became alarmed and took me to see a specialist. After a series of tests and questions, it was determined that I had an inner ear disorder. My “dizziness” was actually a manifestation of a migraine, and there was a lag between what I saw and when my mind perceived it.

At first, this only happened when I was strenuously exercising, but soon enough, it progressed to real, chronic migraines, and vertigo. Vertigo is when the room feels like it’s spinning out of control and is much more debilitating than dizziness.

These bouts of vertigo often occurred mostly when I woke up, and migraines seemed to have no particular pattern.

Upon explaining this to one of my aunt’s, a revelation was made. My aunt remembered my grandmother suffered from Meniere’s Disease, an inner ear disorder which causes imbalance, dizziness, vertigo, migraines, nausea, tinnitus, hearing loss, and ear pressure or pain.

After more tests and with this new information, my doctor diagnosed me with disease number one. I was 16 years old.

Every six months or so I’d go back into the specialist for these super boring hearing tests. I’m unsure as to exact reason why, but I assume it was to make sure I wasn’t significantly losing my hearing.

There is no cure for Meniere’s Disease, but treatments are fairly effective (for me, at least). Reducing sodium has helped me a lot, and mints do wonders with migraines. For the most part, I’ve been able to keep this in check with diet, medication, and certain exercises.

Aside from the occasional migraine, I was symptom free until being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.


  1. hi, I have Meniere's too and am interested about the diet, medication, and certain exercises you do. Also what mints for migraines do you take?

    1. I'm not as disciplined on diet and such as I should be, but cutting down on Sodium helps me immensely, and theoretically, should help most with Meniere's. I also cut out caffeine entirely unless I have to pull an emergency all nighter for school.

      I think flare ups with Meniere's are a lot like food allergies. With my Colitis, I had to keep a food journal and record what I ate, how much, and at what time intervals, and then record how my body reacted. This way, I was able to catch any patterns that lead to unfavorable bodily reactions. Well, I basically decided to do the same with Meniere's and found that I had flare ups when I consumed a lot of chocolate - so I cut down.

      Then there is of course, some of the more obvious, overall healthy, changes, such as getting a good nights sleep and drinking a lot of water.

      As for mints, I mainly just choose anything with strong menthol. It doesn't stop or prevent attacks, but it can keep them at bay until I'm somewhere I can crash, and often works better than medications for me. My ENT also suggested caffeine can sometimes work for some people, but I haven't tried it personally.

      I'll try to find something explaining the exercises, as I'm not great at describing such things :)