Meniere’s Disease and Pregnancy

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Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that causes vertigo, ringing or roaring in the ear (tinnitus), a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear, and off-and-on hearing loss.

Meniere’s disease affects about 2 in every 1000 people, and it most commonly appears in people aged 40 to 60 years old, though younger adults and children may be affected, as well.

What happens?

Attacks of dizziness (vertigo) in Meniere’s disease appear suddenly and last for several hours. These attacks are accompanied by a sensation that the room or objects are rotating around you, and you may experience nausea and vomiting, trembling, cold sweats, fear, diarrhea, and blurry vision or eye jerking. The vertigo and related symptoms subside gradually, but you may still have a fullness or pressure in the ears and you may experience some hearing loss. These attacks can last minutes to hours, or even days; they may occur every few weeks or every few years, making diagnosis and management of the disease difficult.

Experts aren’t sure what causes the attacks, but some people living with Meniere’s disease have identified their own triggers, including stress, fatigue, emotional distress, other illnesses, pressure or weather changes, certain foods, and consuming too much salt.

What causes it?

The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is not known, though it is associated with excess fluid collection in the inner ear. Many causes have been suggested, including infections, allergies, autoimmune diseases, migraines, and genetics. However, without a known cause, no prevention is available for Meniere’s disease. Meniere’s disease affects males and females at equal rates.

How is it treated?

During a symptom attack, bed rest is recommended. Some medications, including certain antihistamines, can be used to control symptoms that are frequent or long lasting. Also, medications to treat accompanying nausea and vomiting may be prescribed.

Most people living with Meniere’s disease find an appropriate combination of lifestyle changes and medications that makes the symptoms manageable and, for most, it is not a disabling condition. In some people, Meniere’s disease worsens over time, while, in others, the condition stabilizes or improves. There is no cure for Meniere’s disease.

Should I worry?

Tinnitus and dizziness may occur with pregnancy, but these are generally isolated symptoms caused by hormone changes and not part of the larger syndrome that is known as Meniere’s disease. If your symptoms worsen or do not go away after pregnancy, see your doctor to discuss the possibility of another cause of your symptoms.

If you are already living with Meniere’s disease when you become pregnant, you may experience more frequent or worsening symptoms during pregnancy.

Meniere’s disease itself won’t harm your baby, but coping with the disease can cause extra stress for moms-to-be. Communicate with your healthcare provider, as well as your family, to plan ahead for attacks, and monitor your diet and overall health and stress level to stay as healthy as possible during pregnancy.

Jennifer Gibson
Dr. Jennifer Gibson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Clemson University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University. She trained as a hospital pharmacist and is the author of clinical textbooks, peer-reviewed journal articles, and continuing education programs for the medical community, as well as a contributor to award-winning healthcare blogs and websites. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, traveling, and spending time with her family.

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