Meniere's disease, surprise diagnosis for TV producer - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Meniere's disease, surprise diagnosis for TV producer

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Amanda Jarrett thought her Meniere's disease symptoms were merely sinus or allergy problems. Amanda Jarrett thought her Meniere's disease symptoms were merely sinus or allergy problems.

Amanda Jarrett is the 5 o'clock news producer at WAFF 48 News. Her job entails quick thinking and decision making. For years she thought a simple ailment was weighing her down. 

"It all started about four years ago with dizzy spells, and I honestly thought it was allergies or sinus issues," said Jarrett.

For some patients these symptoms can be life changing.

Some events sent her home from work. She was given a steroid shot and sent to bed. After several doctor visits and different remedies she was sent to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. He was able to put a name on it: Meniere's disease. That diagnosis was a relief.

"You know I have anxiety as well, and so there were points in time when I thought some of my minor dizzy spells were just anxiety attacks," added Jarrett.

The label meant it was her body and not in her head. 

"It meant a complete lifestyle change. It meant low sodium," she said.

She was also put on a diuretic - common step, according to her doctor, William Scott McCarey, an Otolaryngologist.

"It's a fluid imbalance in the inner ear that can cause a variety of symptoms. The most common symptom is vertigo or a dizzy sensation," said McCarey.

Vertigo can be serious causing falls, vomiting, and more. He said the patient will need to go to bed until it passes.

"Other common symptoms are a ringing or a roaring in the ear and a pressure or fullness feeling in the ear," McCarey added.

Even hearing loss can be a symptom. The idea is to alleviate the fluid, and that cannot be done with tubes.

Diet and diuretics are the first methods. Diet means salt. 

"Fifteen hundred to 2,000 milligrams a day or less. Caffeine also seems to aggravate the symptoms. So we ask people to cut back on their caffeine intake. And then to a lesser extent, alcohol and nicotine can aggravate the symptoms," added the Otolaryngologist.

He said 95 percent of patients can control this disease with diet and fluid tablets. Some may need a special steroid procedure or even surgery, but those are rare.

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