Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder causing dizzy spells (also known as vertigo) and often hearing loss. In medical terms it is also known as idiopathic (or primary) endolymphatic hydrops. Idiopathic means it presents itself for no known reason.
Ménière’s disease symptoms may include some or all of the following:
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- Feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear
- Recurring episodes of vertigo, a dizzy sensation that may start and stop suddenly. Vertigo episodes may last anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours.
- Dizziness may be a sign of unrelated disease, so you should always consult with your doctor if you experience any signs of dizziness to rule out other conditions.
Some patients may experience something called a drop-attack, also known as Tumarkin’s otolithic crisis. In this instance, a patient has a sudden feeling of falling or tipping, even though they may be standing perfectly straight. The patient then attempts to straighten themselves and, as a result, they fall down. According to a 2018 study in the Journal of Vestibular Research, out of a survey of 602 patients with Ménière’s, 49% of them had experienced these drop attacks.
According to the American Hearing Research Foundation ( www.american-hearing.org) Ménière’s affects approximately 615,000 Americans, with over 45,000 new cases diagnosed every year.
There is no actual known single cause for Ménière’s disease, and while there is no cure, there are at least treatments and medications for Ménière’s disease that may help relieve the condition and the unpleasant symptoms that accompany it.
Serc (also known as Betahistine)
Betahistine is used for the treatment of hearing problems and dizziness, two symptoms of Ménière’s disease. It helps to reduce the number of episodes of vertigo the patient experiences by decreasing pressure in the ear.
Serc comes in two pill sizes:
- 16mg pill – A white beveled edged pill with the letter “S” over a triangle on one side and 267 on the scored side. Each pill contains 16mg of betahistine. Non-medical ingredients include citric acid, colloidal anhydrous silica, mannitol, microcrystalline cellulose, and talc.
- 24mg pill – A white beveled edged pill with the letter “S” over a triangle on one side and 289 on the scored side. Each pill contains 24mg of betahistine. Non-medical ingredients include citric acid, colloidal anhydrous silica, mannitol, microcrystalline cellulose, and talc.
Adult dose: The usual dose is 24mg to 48mg taken in 2-3 divided doses. Example: 12mg -24mg twice a day, or 8mg to 16mg three times a day). This medication is to be taken with food to prevent stomach upset.
Your doctor or pharmacist will consult with you to ensure you are taking the right dose, as conditions such as weight and other medical conditions you may have may affect how this medicine is prescribed for you.
What can you do to help minimize the effects of Ménière’s disease?
Along with taking the medications for Ménière’s disease, certain lifestyle changes have been shown to at least provide some relief of symptoms.
- Stress reduction. Many Ménière’s disease patients say that stress may trigger attacks.
- Healthy eating and exercise. This may help relieve stress which in turns helps reduce the frequency of attacks.
- Reducing the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and salt.
- Avoid smoking.
- Medications to help manage the nausea that often comes with dizziness.
- Balance therapy – also known as Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)
There may be other treatments that may help with the pressure in the ear. Speak to your doctor about what treatments may be available to you as an addition to your medication.
If you have questions about your prescription or non-prescription medication, please contact the team at Canada Online Health by calling toll free 1-800-399-DRUG (3784) or visit their website at https://www.canadaonlinehealth.ca. One of the friendly and discreet pharmacy representatives will be happy to answer your questions.
This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor. It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation. If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).