Meniere’s disease and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (also referred to as BPPV) are both causes of dizziness, discomfort, and massive disruptions in people’s lives. Though they commonly get conflated with one another, they are distinctly different conditions, each with different causes, as well as different methods of treatment.
Here’s an overview, so you learn a little more about them, and so you can learn how you and your loved ones can get the testing and treatment you deserve!
What is Meniere’s disease? What is BPPV?
Meniere’s disease occurs in the inner ear, and most commonly leads to feelings of dizziness, but can also cause hearing loss, as well. Typically, this chronic condition, one that usually manifests during adulthood (though it can occur at any age), will affect just one ear vs. both ears.
Vertigo-like feelings, pressure in the ear that is described as a feeling of “fullness,” and even tinnitus are common symptoms associated with Meniere’s disease. It’s no wonder that those affected by it describe it as being a disruptive condition to endure.
The world feels like it’s spinning, you’re hearing buzzing and ringing sounds no one can perceive, and your head is filled with pressure while your hearing seems to have faded away. You deserve relief!
BPPV is also an incredibly disorienting condition for those afflicted, but its symptoms are generally limited to feelings of vertigo, the effects of which should never be downplayed. Both are incredibly uncomfortable, but their symptoms are distinct.
What causes Meniere’s disease? What causes BPPV?
Unfortunately, the exact cause of Meniere’s disease is still unknown. Experts, however, point to research that tentatively includes genetic disposition, abnormal immune responses, certain viral infections, and a lack of the inner ear’s ability to properly drain fluids as a potential cause for Meniere’s disease.
BPPV, on the other hand, is much clearer in origin. In most cases, BPPV is caused by a disruption in your body’s vestibular system. Your vestibular system, located in the inner ear, is responsible for things like your sense of spatial relationships, as well as your sense of balance.
There’s an important part of your vestibular system called the Otolith organs. These organs are pouch-like structures that contain a fluid similar to gelatin. Housed inside of this fluid are what’s called your Otoconia crystals.
These crystals play an important role in your sense of balance. Sometimes these crystals can become dislodged and travel toward your inner ears’ semicircular canals. When this happens, it can drastically affect your sense of balance, essentially triggering the effects of BPPV.
You’ll feel incredibly dizzy, as though the entire world is spinning around you, completely out of your control. It’s disorienting and incredibly nauseating.
How is Meniere’s disease treated? How is BPPV treated?
First, let’s start with BPPV treatment. The most common treatment for BPPV, called Canalith Repositioning, is a non-surgical and non-medical series of provider-led movements that, in a matter of just a few non-invasive treatment sessions, can move the crystals back into the appropriate area of your inner ear for reabsorption.
Though BPPV can recur, with the right provider and treatment process, it is easily manageable.
The treatment process for Meniere’s is altogether different.
The first and most important step in assessing your potential Meniere’s disease is to undergo a series of tests that will best help us understand the true nature of your condition.
We’ll discuss your experiences with vertigo and tinnitus, conduct hearing tests to confirm and analyze your loss, and explore other possibilities for which you could be experiencing these symptoms. Only after ruling out those other potentialities can we confidently move forward in a Meniere’s diagnosis.
From there, a variety of different treatment recommendations are possible, depending on the severity of your case. They could be non-invasive, such as hearing aids or vestibular rehabilitation.
There are also numerous medications that can be prescribed for more serious types of vertigo. And for those more extreme cases, there are surgical interventions designed to alleviate the effects of Meniere’s.
The first step in knowing what’s best for you? Get tested! At Colorado Ear Care, we pride ourselves in our approach. We’re completely patient-need-driven, which is why we offer the most comprehensive testing in our field. If you’re concerned about your or a loved one’s experience with dizziness and balance, then don’t delay. We have the insight and experience to help you feel your very best. Contact us today!