Vertigo & Meniere’s
Meniere’s is a disease that has been well known and documented for 150 years. Initially characterized as vertigo, the diagnosis is made by eliminating all other resembling conditions. When all other causes and conditions are ruled out, Meniere’s disease is confirmed– an estimated 600,000 cases in the United States.
Meniere’s is marked by excess endolymph fluid in the inner ear’s vestibular chamber. Scientists disagree whether this excess fluid is a cause or symptom of the disease. “What causes excess endolymph?” has yet to be determined. The consequence of this excess fluid is an increase in vestibular chamber pressure, and eventually a rupturing of the membrane which separates two fluids: endolymph and perilymph. These two fluids are electrically opposite by nature, and the event of their reaction sends interrupting electrical signals to the brain. This interruption short circuits signal processing affecting balance, spatial orientation and eye movement.
Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease:
- Vertigo (the uncontrollable perception of the world “spinning”) is the primary and most distressing symptom. The person may need to lie down, and severe attacks may cause a person to drop suddenly to the floor. “Drop attacks” leave a person helpless and can induce vomiting. Attacks may last minutes or go on for hours. Some get drop attacks frequently, others only once every year or two, and many never get them at all. About 70% of people with Meniere’s find their vertigo attacks diminish over time. The other 30% continue to experience relentless vertigo and may elect to undergo aggressive medical therapy (surgery or drugs) to disable the vestibular system.
- Ear and/or head pressure is another major symptom. The ear feels plugged from the extra fluids described above. Characterized by a need to swallow and/or pop the ear to rebalance the air pressure; however, the Eustachian tube is not working properly and is unable to equalize.
- Hearing loss with Meniere’s: Fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss initially shows up in lower frequencies with an audiogram. Over time with most cases, the loss will grow from mild to moderate and eventually affect all frequencies. Hearing can potentially improve between attacks, but overall worsens with each succeeding attack. Hearing loss may become profound, but rarely causes total deafness.
- Tinnitus occurs at frequencies where hearing is damaged. Since low frequency damage occurs first in Meniere’s, related tinnitus is typically characterized by a low-pitched hissing, rushing or roaring noise rather than a high-pitched ringing. Tinnitus may or may not fluctuate or disappear between attacks.
- Other symptoms of Meniere’s may include anxiety, depression, fatigue, sweating and muscular aches and pains.
Leading treatment for Meniere’s: Upper Cervical Care
In 1999 upper cervical chiropractor Dr. Michael Burcon treated the upper cervical area of three patients who also had Meniere’s disease. After treatment, all three patients reported recovery from the vertigo caused by Meniere’s. Intrigued by this finding, Dr. Burcon began documenting new cases. This soon led to understanding what his Meneire’s patients had in common: evidence of neck trauma, specifically whiplash and concussion. He began treating all Meniere’s cases as if treating whiplash. Vertigo dramatically improved in more than nine out of ten patients, and hearing improved dramatically in one out of three patients.
The reason this has been overlooked for so long is that there is a long latency period between neck injuries and the onset of Meniere’s. This period averages 15 years, but can be as long as 25 years. Typically, people are diagnosed with Meniere’s in middle age, but their injury happened many years before, during their teenage years or twenties.
Dr. Burcon’s long term results have been clinically documented in 90% of cases. On a scale of zero to ten, with ten being severe vertigo, 470 trial patients rated their vertigo at an average of 7.8 before treatment. Six weeks into treatment, average ratings dropped to 2.8. After one year of treatment, ratings fell to 1.8. In two years, they dropped again to 1.2, and at three years, they were found to be less than 0.1! Thank you for your profound impact Dr. Michael Burcon!
Why Upper Cervical Care?
Upper Cervical Chiropractors align the top two neck bones to restore nerve communication from the brain to every other part of the body. The atlas (C1) and axis (C2) of the upper cervical spine are the only two vertebrae which do not have an intervertebral disc between them. This makes them the most vulnerable to injury onset misalignment.
With an atlas or axis misalignment, the weight of the head is no longer evenly distributed on the atlas vertebrae. The rest of the body must compensate for this imbalance and can lead to muscle or joint pain, low back pain, organ dysfunction, reduced immune system function and other conditions not normally traced back to a problem in the upper neck.
The brainstem extends down into a cavity within C1 and C2, so the spinal cord begins at C3. When C1 or C2 are out of alignment, they put pressure on the base of the brainstem after whiplash, and can result in serious complications by interfering with the flow of signals throughout the nervous system. An upper cervical misalignment can irritate, constrict or disrupt vital nerve signals to any portion of the body. As Dr. Burcon explains, “Five of the twelve cranial nerves originate in the brainstem. The base of the brain controls many important bodily functions, such as breathing, blood pressure, sleep and balance.”
“Meniere’s” UCSpine, Nov. 2019
Image source: Blairchiropractic.com
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