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Meniere's Disease
by Jennifer Gibson

Dealing with a hearing loss on a daily basis can be a challenging task. Exhaustion or a simple illness can make it even more difficult. This past year, I discovered just how frustrating it was to deal with a major illness. I developed Meniere’s Disease without any warning.

I woke up one morning with severe vertigo; the room was spinning before I opened my eyes. The house seemed to tilt whenever I tried to get up and walk. There was severe pain and incessant ringing in my ears which was unusual. Another symptom was depression, a horrible sense of darkness where there seemed to be no light or hope.

I knew it was not a simple cold or flu, I had never felt that way before. It was very strange.

The first attack lasted for over a week. Afterwards, the attacks occurred several weeks apart and lasted a day or two, particularly during stressful times.

It became frightening. I had never felt so alone and terrified. Everything seemed dull and uninteresting. I felt very insignificant. It changed my outlook on life completely.

At the same time as going through this then as yet unnamed condition, I had just signed up for college and was dealing with stress from various situations. It seemed as if everything in my life was falling apart. Fortunately, my family doctor helped me deal with the symptoms throughout the year. I was able to attend classes and volunteer my time with the local hockey club as a trainer. However, there were times when I struggled to maintain a normal pace.

It wasn’t until a year later when I saw an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist that the diease was identified. I went through a series of tests that triggered the attacks. I was forewarned that the symptoms could continue for several months or years. Since then, the attacks have significantly decreased and symptoms have been minimal. Thankfully the depression is now a distant memory.

by Jennifer Gibson

Anyone can suffer from Meniere's Disease, although it seems to occur in people over the age of 20. Apparently, over a million people in North America suffer from this disease. Meniere’s Disease is a disorder of the inner ear. The fluids in the ear malfunction and can cause severe symptoms such as vertigo, tinnitus, pressure in the ear, and fluctuating hearing loss. There are some treatments, medications, and diet restrictions that can help lessen the symptoms. There is no cure.

No one should have to go through this difficult disease alone. It can be managed with the assistance of a family doctor and E.N.T. specialist. The support of family and friends can make a difference in dealing with Meniere’s Disease. I am glad that I had that support at a pivotal time in my life.

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