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Menieres disease

Category: Illness or disabilities

Type

Involuntary

Introduction and description

 

Ménière's disease  also called endolymphatic hydrops,  is a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance.

It is characterized by episodes of vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss. The condition affects people differently; it can range in intensity from being a mild annoyance to a lifelong condition.

The membranous labyrinth, a system of membranes in the ear, contains a fluid called endolymph. In Ménière's disease, endolymph bursts from its normal channels in the ear and flows into other areas, causing damage. This is called "hydrops." The membranes can also become dilated like a balloon when pressure increases and drainage is blocked. This may be related to swelling of the endolymphatic sac or other tissues in the vestibular system of the inner ear, which is responsible for the body's sense of balance.  Ménière's disease is thus linked to endolymphatic hydrops, an excess of fluid in the inner ear.  But this is not the cause, as we need to ask what caused this swelling.

Generally swelling of any sort is in response to irritation by pathogens, as such we can suspect one or more pathogens are likely to be the cause of Meniere’s, we will look at some likely culprits in the ‘Cause’ section.

The condition is named after the French physician Prosper Ménière, who, in an 1861 article, first reported that vertigo was caused by inner ear disorders.

Ménière's disease affects about 190 people per 100,000. Recent gender predominance studies show that Ménière's tends to affect women more often than men. Age of onset typically occurs in adult years, with prevalence increasing with age.

Symptoms

 

Ménière's symptoms vary, "classic" Ménière's has the following symptoms:

  • Vertigo - Attacks of rotational vertigo that can be severe, incapacitating, unpredictable, and last anywhere from minutes to hours, but generally no longer than 24 hours. For some, prolonged attacks can occur, lasting from several days to several weeks, often severely incapacitating the sufferer.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and sweating sometimes accompany the vertigo
  • Hearing loss - Fluctuating, progressive, unilateral (in one ear) or bilateral (in both ears) hearing loss may occur, usually in lower frequencies.  For some, sounds can appear tinny or distorted, and patients can experience unusual sensitivity to noises.  Hearing may improve after an attack, but often becomes progressively worse.
  • Tinnitus - Unilateral or bilateral tinnitus.
  • Ear pressure - A sensation of fullness or pressure in one or both ears.
  • Nystagmus - Vertigo may induce nystagmus, or uncontrollable rhythmical and jerky eye movements, usually in the horizontal plane, reflecting the essential role of non-visual balance in coordinating eye movements.
  • Sudden falls without loss of consciousness – ‘drop attacks’, also known as ‘Tumarkin attacks’ may be experienced by some people, usually in the later stages of the disease. Less than 10% of people with Ménière's disease tend to experience such attacks. There is typically a sensation of being pushed sharply to the floor from behind (this is thought to be triggered by a sudden mechanical disturbance of the otolithic membrane that activates motoneurons in the vestibulospinal tract). The affected person is able to get up again afterwards.

Causes

 

One of the more fascinating aspects of Ménière's disease is that people with certain other illnesses can also experience Ménière-like symptoms.  Quite a number of diseases, including syphilis, Cogan's syndrome, dysautonomia, perilymph fistula, multiple sclerosis, acoustic neuroma, migraine and both hypo- and hyperthyroidism, can also result in the same symptoms.  This indicates that the same pathogens that can cause these diseases have the capability to also infect the inner ear.  

There are a number of diseases in this list that are themselves other ear diseases, [Cogan syndrome, perilymph fistula], rather implying that the pathogens causing the other ear diseases simply extend their area of attack. But there is an interestingly large number of diseases in this list that relate to the nervous system and its degeneration, for example:

  • Dysautonomia (or autonomic neuropathy) is a term for various conditions in which the autonomic nervous system (ANS) does not work correctly. It affects the nerves that carry information from the brain and spinal cord to the heart, bladder, intestines, sweat glands, pupils, and blood vessels
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate
  • Acoustic neuroma - is a benign primary intracranial tumor of the myelin-forming cells of the vestibulocochlear nerve (8th cranial nerve).

So let us look at the possible causes in more detail.

Heavy metal poisoning

 

Heavy metal poisoning, particularly from mercury and lead seem to be implicated in many many cases.  The mercury is likely to come from old and faulty dental fillings given their proximity to the ear.  Lead is from a whole host of sources – artists' paints, pewter drinking vessels, car fumes, lead water pipes and so on – see lead poisoning.

Quite a number of artists suffered from Meuniere’s disease and it is known that they suffered from heavy metal poisoning – mostly lead, but other metals too.  For example, Goya the famous Spanish court painter became deaf after a series of episodes of illness and...

We intend to correct the historical error that Vincent Van Gogh's medical problems resulted [only] from epilepsy plus madness, a diagnosis made during his life but for which no rigid criteria are apparent. Review of 796 personal letters to family and friends written between 1884 and his suicide in 1890 reveals a man .... suffering from severe repeated attacks of disabling vertigo, …. the clinical descriptions in his letters are those of a person suffering from Meniere's disease, not epilepsy. The authors point out that Prosper Meniere's description of his syndrome (an inner-ear disorder) was not well known when Van Gogh died and that it often was misdiagnosed as epilepsy well into the 20th century.  PMID: 2094236

Julius Caesar was known to have suffered from the "falling sickness" as noted in Plutarch's Parallel Lives, and Shakespeare noted that Caesar was unable to hear fully in his left ear.  This is now attributed to Meniere’s disease, but its ultimate cause is the lead water pipes used by the Romans and wine sweetened with salts of lead. 

Beethoven became deaf after suffering a series of episodes that match the symptoms of Ménière's disease and his deafness and gradual deterioration mentally was caused by lead poisoning.

Germany’s extensive use of pewter for plates, tankers and other cooking vessels, its use of lead pipes for water and its use of lead salts to make wine sweeter, meant that right up to the present day, Germans have consumed a lot of lead and have been prone to all the symptoms lead poisoning produces.  Yet another victim seems to be Martin Luther.

Martin Luther's diseases are well documented, because he used to discuss them freely in his letters. There is also a wealth of evidence through reports by his friends. Most of his diseases were common and well known to the contemporary physicians, who accordingly interpreted them correctly: bladder stones, chronic constipation, hemorrhoids. Luther's death was due to a coronary thrombosis. During the last 19 years of his life, however, … Luther also suffered from recurring attacks of a peculiar symptomatology. Luther himself and his friends considered these seizures to be .. Satan punching his flesh... The first of these attacks occurred on July 6, 1527, when Luther was 43 years of age. It began with a roaring tinnitus in his left ear, which increased dramatically and seemed to occupy the left half of his head. Then a state of sickness and collapse followed, however, consciousness was retained throughout the whole period. After a night's rest all the symptoms had subsided, except the tinnitus, which, from that day on, continued for all the following years in varying intensity. Similar attacks with increase of the tinnitus and vertigo as the leading symptoms, seized Luther at irregular intervals and distressed him extremely. …. The present detailed study reveals that it was a typical case of Menière's disease of the left ear manifesting itself more than 330 years before Menière's classical observation.  PMID: 2529669

In other words, Meniere’s disease is not actually a disease in this case, it is simply a set of symptoms resulting from the heavy metal poisoning.

Pharmaceuticals

 

The following information comes from eHealthme and is based on the Adverse Drug Reports submitted by doctors to the FDA and SEDA in the USA only. 

The links, in each case take you to the eHealthme site where you will find under the drugs section a list of all drugs implicated in a symptom or in Meniere's disease itself :

In 2016, eHealthme completely reordered their site.  This meant that every link we had provided to their data no longer worked.  The links to eHealthme take you to their site but not the relevant section.  Thus you can use the link, but you will need to search under ‘symptoms’ and then use the section ‘drugs causing symptoms’ to get the information. 

  • Vertigo – The pharmaceuticals that are implicated in causing vertigo can be found following this LINK  
  • Menieres disease – The drugs that have been directly implicated in causing Meniere’s disease can be found by following this LINK
  • Dizziness - The pharmaceuticals that are implicated in causing dizziness  can be found following this LINK  

 And this brings us on to what may be a major culprit - vaccines.

Vaccines

 

A vaccine consists of the pathogen against which immunisation is sought, a booster to the immune system called an adjuvant and the holding fluid – the excipient. 

The way a vaccine is intended to work is that the adjuvant boosts the immune system to fight everything in the vaccine – all that has been injected, [or also, these days, sprayed into the nose, which is very close to the ears of course].

Unfortunately, the immune system fights everything in the vaccine, including the excipient and adjuvant.  Unfortunate, because the excipient and adjuvant are usually not some body neutral substance, but in the past have included things like peanut oil and lactase [a protein in milk]. 

As a consequence, people have developed allergies and intolerances to a whole host of substances – not just peanuts and dairy products, but gelatin [excipient], fructose and sucrose [leading to the hypothesis that some forms of diabetes are simply intolerances brought on by an immune reaction to sugar and fructose], plus a host of other food substances.

And one of the findings is that those with Meniere’s disease suffer from both allergies and intolerances in general:

Ménière's disease (MD) ...... has been ascribed to various causes, including both inhalant and food allergies. Patients with MD report higher rates of allergy history and positive skin or in vitro tests compared with a control group of patients with other otologic diseases and to the general public. Recent immunologic studies have shown higher rates of circulating immune complexes, CD4, and other immunologic components in patients with MD compared with healthy controls. Published treatment results have shown benefit from immunotherapy and/or dietary restriction for symptoms of MD in those patients who present with both allergy and MD.  PMID:  21621052

 

Thus, so far we know that vaccines cause allergies and intolerances to many substances and those with Meniere’s disease suffer from allergies and intolerance. 

The next question to ask is  'can the immune response to that allergen be the cause of ear damage?'  In other words, has the vaccine caused a form of autoimmune disease that attacks the ear?

Prospective study of 11 patients identified with both Meniere's disease and inhalant allergy in the practices of 2 neurotologists at our institution. Patients underwent a baseline ECoG [electrocochleography], followed by intranasal challenge with the allergen to which they were most sensitive. This was followed by a second ECoG [electrocochleography].  No patient with a normal ECoG experienced vestibular symptoms after allergen challenge, whereas 2 of group 1 and 2 of group 2 had vestibular symptoms with abnormal ECoGs.  PMID:  11593169

The answer appears to be yes. 

There have already been some high profile court cases concerning GBS and vaccines.  In GBS – as in other nervous system diseases, there was a protein in the excipient that closely resembled the myelin sheath of the nerves [see observation below under heading 'other'].  The immune system, after vaccination, encountered the excipient with this protein and promptly created an immunological response to it, thereby ensuring the immune system attacked the body’s nerves.  And from this we have the diseases multiple sclerosis, GBS, plus a number of other nervous system diseases.  And as we have seen, these diseases are linked to Meniere’s.

There is thus fairly strong evidence that where Meniere’s is a co-morbidity with other diseases whose cause can also be vaccines, it may well be vaccines that are the cause of the Meniere’s disease.

It is possible that it is not the excipient that is to blame but the adjuvant.  Freund's adjuvant, for example, is a solution of antigen emulsified in mineral oil and used as an immunopotentiator (booster). The complete form, Freund's Complete Adjuvant (CFA or FCA) is composed of inactivated and dried mycobacteria - usually M. tuberculosis.  Now a paper:

Injury to the endolymphatic sac may play an important role in the pathogenesis of Ménière's disease, …. Isoimmunization of 16 inbred Lewis rats with a crude endolymphatic sac extract and complete Freund's adjuvant induced hyperactivity of the endolymphatic sac. One group of rats was immunized by a single dose whereas a second group was immunized twice. ……Serum was collected from all rats by the end of the study and harvested autoantibodies were tested by immunohistochemistry. … Endolymphatic sac stimulation was observed in all immunized rats. .. the degree of reactivity seemed proportional to the number of injections and the extent of immunization. ….. No endolymphatic sac stimulation was observed in the control animals. Specific ribosome-rich cell alterations identical to those present in the endolymphatic sac of Ménière's disease were observed 21 days after the first immunization. PMID:  23296206

 

Thus if we summarise. 

The excipient or the adjuvant in vaccines may be the cause of Meniere’s, depending on the type of substances used.   

Every reaction might appear to be an autoimmune reaction – the body attacking itself, but it is doing so because the vaccine has taught it that a bodily substance similar to the vaccine contents is to be fought, for example the nerves or the contents of the  endolymphatic sac.

Note that the only way to heal this is to retrain the immune system or via blood transfusions to clean the blood.  

Viruses

There are a number of viruses implicated in being another cause of  Ménière's disease

The association of viral infection to inner ear disease is controversial. Experiments on animals show that several viruses are capable of causing hearing loss, if applied into the perilymph. Some of these have specific affinity to the cellular type of the inner ear, as sensory epithelia and cochlear nerve. Some viruses as adenoviruses and Coxsackie virus B have specific CAR receptors that are identified in different cell types, whereas other act by attaching onto nonspecific cellular surface receptors. Some viruses such as varicella zoster virus (VZV) do not cause disease in rodents. We assessed 273 patients with clinical, serological, neuro-otologic and endoscopic evaluations. Of the 273 patients, 43 served as control subjects. The patients either had Ménière's disease (n = 158), recurrent vertigo of unknown etiology (n = 56), or hearing loss (n = 17). Antibodies against neurotropic and common viruses were evaluated. VZV, influenza B, CBV5 and RSV titers were significantly elevated in patients with inner ear disease when compared with the control group. In analyzing the internal relationship, VZV and influenza B were intercorrelated. We did not find a correlation between hearing loss and viral titers. In conclusion, VZV, Coxsackie virus B5 and influenza B virus may be the main causes of inner ear disorder. The spiral and Scarpa's ganglion are potential sites harboring viral DNA for possible latent infection.  PMID:  18235204

The presence of influenza B in this list is of especial interest as the only way that the subjects in this study could have received this virus is via vaccination.  VZV [Chicken pox] is a latent virus and as such it could be from a childhood infection or via vaccination.  The following paper tells us more about where viruses have been found:

Morphological and clinical evidence supports a viral neuropathy in Ménière's disease (MD). Quantitative examination of 11 sectioned temporal bones (TBs) from 8 patients with a history of MD revealed a significant loss of vestibular ganglion cells in both the endolymph hydropic (EH) and non-EH ears. Transmission electron microscopy of vestibular ganglion cells excised from a patient with MD revealed viral particles enclosed in transport vesicles. PMID:  19142031

The next paper is key.  A latent virus is one that can be received via vaccination or infection and which appears to have been subdued, but is not in fact eradicated by the immune system but simply ‘lays low’ in a latent form.  All latent viruses are then capable of being reactivated when the immune system is compromised via stress, grief and high negative emotion or via pharmaceuticals such as immunosuppressants, antihistamines and antibiotics [through compromising the intestinal flora, a vital part of the immune system].

Of the 10 specimens from the patients with Ménière's disease, 7 were positive for VZV, 4 for EBV, 1 for CMV and none for HSV1&2, although the serum antibody titers against these viruses did not show any significant elevation in these patients just before the endolymphatic sac surgery. This result suggests that the viral DNA in the endolymphatic sac is inactive and is present in a latent form. From the statistical analysis, it can be postulated that VZV infection in early childhood may reach the ES and play a role in the pathogenesis of Ménière's disease (p = 0.0235). The double infection with both VZV and EBV tended to be another candidate for the pathogenesis of Ménière's disease (p = 0.0557).  PMID:  12925817

So in summary, VZV [chicken pox], EBV, influenza, adenoviruses, CMV and Coxsackie virus B are all possible causes of Ménière's disease, principally via latency, followed by the compromising of the immune system by negative emotions including stress, as well as the use of immunosuppressants, antihistamines and antibiotics.  These viruses may have been caught or be from vaccines.

Parasites

 

We have found some papers that show that some cases of Meniere’s may be due to parasites:

  • [Hearing disturbances in toxoplasmosis (author's transl)]. Kecht B. Laryngol Rhinol Otol (Stuttg). 1974 Jun;53(6):415-21. German. PMID: 4427508   and
  • [Toxoplasmosis and Meniere's syndrome]. WILKE J. HNO. 1961 Jul;9:251-4. German. No abstract available. PMID: 13785293

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that causes the disease toxoplasmosis.  Found worldwide, T. gondii is capable of infecting virtually all warm-blooded animals.  Its main host however is the cat family.

Hypoxia

Several research papers have described the relationship between hypoxia and inner ear function. This paper shows that hypoxia could cause Ménière's disease.

…. insufficient supply of blood via the vertebral basilar artery, which supplies the inner ear, can cause hydropic distension of the endolymphatic system and lead to Ménière's disease. …. PMID:  23989598

In other words insufficient supply of blood and hence oxygen leading to the ear can lead to Meniere’s disease.

 

An insufficient supply of blood could itself be caused by a whole host of diseases from atherosclerosis which blocks the blood supply to tumours which do the same.  It may even be caused by surgery or trauma to the neck and head.  The Merck Manual, for example, has added head trauma as a risk factor due to the research on 300 Ménière's patients over the past fourteen years. It takes an average of fifteen years after the trauma before the onset of symptoms.

Another cause of an insufficient supply of blood is sleep apnea.  Once the person gets Meniere’s disease, the tinnitus and discomfort often leads to insomnia, in a vicious cycle in which one feeds the other, doctors then make it worse…

Physicians routinely prescribe benzodiazepines or other drugs that have hypnotic, muscle relaxing, antianxiety, and anticonvulsant properties for insomnia, but these properties may have the effect of aggravating OSAS [obstructive sleep apnea syndrome] symptoms. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is an effective therapy used worldwide for the treatment of OSAS. CPAP may be useful as one aspect of treatment for Ménière's disease patients with OSAS.  PMID:  23989598

In other words, if you suffer from sleep apnea, it may be a cause of the Meniere’s and you will only make it worse by taking pharms.  CPAP might be a better option.

Treatment

 

It is imperative that you find the cause before any treatment is attempted. 

Giving an antiviral to a person who is suffering from hypoxia could literally kill them, as such any doctor who is prepared to hand out pharmaceuticals without any form of testing is not acting in your best interest

  • Heavy metals – can be chelated and you can test for the presence of heavy metals in the blood stream relatively easy.  Your doctor can do it, but if he is unco-operative home kits are available.  Change doctor.  The chelating agent used depends on the metal.  Selenium, for example, helps with mercury.  We have provided two observations to help.  Use food in preference to supplements.  Follow the activity links in each observation to find out which foods contain which antidotes.  Get your teeth checked by a dentist who does NOT use mercury based fillings
  • Viruses – Depending on the virus, specific foods can help.  If you go to the entry on the appropriate virus, then the healing section shows which foods help
  • Vaccines – test yourself for allergies, there are independent test laboratories that do this.  Avoid all the allergens identified.  Look up the contents of the vaccines you have been given to get some clues as to what was in them and avoid these as best you can.  In effect exclude everything that was in that vaccine or may bear some similarity to that substance.  The list of vaccine contents kept by Wikipedia is helpful and very welcome but you need the contents at the time you were vaccinated.  INSIST the doctor finds this out for you.  I am tempted to say if he doesn’t co-operate sue him, but I won’t ….
  • Hypoxia – and blockages can be revealed by scans and other standard medical procedures.  If your doctor won't help, change doctor.
  • Parasites – can be detected by normal medical procedures, again we have foods that are anti-parasitics on this site, healing foods are parasite specific, so you will need to go to the specific section dealing with that parasite

If these tests fail, then demand that your doctor test for other pathogens – bacteria and fungi being the two most important.

Keep the immune system well boosted with vitamin C, adequate minerals and other vitamins.  Keep warm and sleep to excess.

In the healing section below there are some added suggestions for plants that temporarily help alleviate the symptoms, however, it is far better to pursue the cause as quickly as possible.

References and further reading

  • JAMA. 1990 Jul 25;264(4):491-3. Van Gogh had Menière's disease and not epilepsy.- Arenberg IK1, Countryman LF, Bernstein LH, Shambaugh GE Jr.  1International Meniere's Disease Research Institute, Colorado Neurologic Institute, Englewood 80110.
  • Proc R Soc Med. 1958 Jan;51(1):27-30. Julius Caesar and the falling sickness. CAWTHORNE T. PMID: 13518145
  • Sudhoffs Arch. 1989;73(1):26-44.  [Martin Luther's seizure disorder]. [Article in German]  Feldmann H.
  • Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013 Oct;21(5):503-8. doi:  0.1097/MOO.0b013e32836463bc. Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome as a novel cause for Ménière's disease. Nakayama M1, Kabaya K.
  • Audiol Neurootol. 2013;18(2):125-33. doi: 10.1159/000345977. Epub 2013 Jan 5.  Experimental hyperactivity of the endolymphatic sac.  Friis M1, Thomsen AR, Poulsen SS, Qvortrup K.   1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery and Audiology, Rigshospitalet, and Department of Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. morten_friis@hotmail.com
  • Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2011 Jun;44(3):655-66, ix. doi: 10.1016/j.otc.2011.03.004. Epub 2011 May 4.  Allergic and immunologic features of Ménière's disease. Derebery MJ1.
  • Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2001 Oct;125(4):346-50.  Inhalant allergy and Meniere's disease: Use of electrocochleography and intranasal allergen challenge as investigational tools.  Noell CA1, Roland PS, Mabry RL, Shoup AG.
  • Am J Audiol. 2014 Jun;23(2):232-7. doi: 10.1044/2014_AJA-13-0060.  Higher prevalence of autoimmune diseases and longer spells of vertigo in patients affected with familial Ménière's disease: A clinical comparison of familial and sporadic Ménière's disease.  Hietikko E, Sorri M, Männikkö M, Kotimäki J.
  • ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2008;70(1):32-40; discussion 40-1. doi: 10.1159/000111046. Epub 2008 Feb 1.  Do viruses cause inner ear disturbances?  Pyykko I1, Zou J. 1Department of Otolaryngology, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland. ilmari.pyykko@pshp.fi
  • ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2008;70(1):21-6; discussion 26-7. doi: 10.1159/000111044. Epub 2008 Feb 1.  Intratympanic application of an antiviral agent for the treatment of Ménière's disease.  Guyot JP1, Maire R, Delaspre O.  1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland. jean-philippe.guyot@hcuge.ch
  • ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2009;71(2):78-86. doi: 10.1159/000189783. Epub 2009 Jan 10. Ménière's disease is a viral neuropathy.  Gacek RR1.  1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655, USA. gacekr@ummhc.org
  • ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2003 May-Jun;65(3):162-8.  Detection of viral DNA in the endolymphatic sac in Ménière's disease by in situ hybridization.  Yazawa Y1, Suzuki M, Hanamitsu M, Kimura H, Tooyama I.

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