Meniere's disease, surprise diagnosis for TV producer

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.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - 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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