Stick to what you know

Get­ting ex­pert ad­vice is al­ways a good idea, says Pat Henry

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - OPINION -

be mis­in­ter­preted as a sign of ine­bri­a­tion.

By her early to mid-30s, Rita was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant fluc­tu­a­tions in her hear­ing and had tin­ni­tus. The ver­tigo at­tacks con­tin­ued but were a lit­tle less se­vere, now last­ing up to 11 hours in­stead of 24.

Af­ter about 15 years, when she was in her late 40s, the symp­toms changed again — the ver­tigo at­tacks re­treated, but her hear­ing loss in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly and she ex­pe­ri­enced hy­per­a­cu­sis or an ex­tremely acute form of dis­torted hear­ing.

“The hear­ing loss was so se­vere that it caused dis­tor­tion of sound and could be very un­com­fort­able — for ex­am­ple some­one putting a spoon on a saucer would be too loud,” says Rita, who in 2012 started the Dublin Me­niere’s Sup­port Group. The or­gan­i­sa­tion now has about 60 mem­bers rang­ing from peo­ple in their 30s to their 70s, and is of­fi­cially a group within the UK so­ci­ety.

Af­ter study­ing coun­selling, Rita had worked for many years as a fa­cil­i­ta­tor for peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues with Grow Ire­land, but by the time she reached her 50s, she found it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to carry on.

“I en­joyed my work and man­aged the big at­tacks although it wasn’t easy,” she says, re­call­ing that as her hear­ing de­te­ri­o­rated, she started to get se­vere headaches.

“There was a lack of co­or­di­na­tion, and I started drop­ping things,” she says, adding that she still had an oc­ca­sional at­tack of dizzi­ness and nau­sea.

By her late 50s, the mother of three adult chil­dren was also Me­niere’s dis­ease is a dis­ease

of the in­ner ear, which is char­ac­terised by at­tacks of dizzi­ness, nau­sea, vom­it­ing, deaf­ness and a buzzing in the

ears (tin­ni­tus). The dis­ease got its name from a French doc­tor called Pros­per Me­niere, who first de­scribed the con­di­tion. The in­ci­dence is 1 in 500 ac­cord­ing to Amer­i­can re­search,

but other sources point to be­tween 1:1000 and 1:2000 of the pop­u­la­tion.Both sexes are equally af­fected and it can oc­cur at any age. About 7-10pc of suf­fer­ers

have a fam­ily his­tory of the dis­ease.The cause of is un­known. Treat­ment of Me­niere’s dis­ease is aimed at re­duc­ing and con­trol­ling

symp­toms. ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant fa­tigue and even­tu­ally had to give up work com­pletely.

Now Rita wears a panic but­ton around the house, and when she goes out, brings a spe­cial card ex­plain­ing her con­di­tion, as well as an ex­plana­tory let­ter from her GP.

Aside from its ex­tremely dis­tress­ing symp­toms, the dis­ease can have a very se­ri­ous psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fect on pa­tients, she says.

“Some peo­ple be­come very ill with anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion be­cause of the im­pact the dis­ease has on their daily lives — they can­not go out be­cause they are afraid that if they have an at­tack peo­ple will leave them ly­ing on the ground be­liev­ing they are drunk.

“You can’t ring for help be­cause ev­ery­thing is spin­ning and you are sick,” says Rita.

Man­age­ment of Me­niere’s dis­ease, says Dr Khoo, is pri­mar­ily aimed at con­trol­ling the de­bil­i­tat­ing symp­toms of ver­tigo and in­cludes med­i­ca­tion to treat dizzi­ness and sick­ness. Sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tions, in­clud­ing the in­jec­tion of steroids into the in­ner ear — gen­er­ally about five in­jec­tions over five weeks — to re­duce in­flam­ma­tory re­ac­tion in the in­ner ear can of­ten be suc­cess­ful for some pa­tients, he says.

In­ject­ing an an­tibi­otic called gen­tam­icin into the in­ner ear can also help to elim­i­nate the mal­func­tion­ing bal­ance re­cep­tions of the in­ner ear, he ex­plains, adding that, in the past, the re­moval of the en­tire in­ner-ear bal­ance or­gan was rec­om­mended.

How­ever, says Dr Khoo, this is now gen­er­ally car­ried out as a last re­sort as it is recog­nised that there is a 40pc chance of the dis­ease mov­ing to the pa­tient’s other ear. ÷ The Me­niere’s Dublin Sup­port Group meets at 2.30pm on the first Mon­day of every month at the Deaf­hear Dublin South Re­source Cen­tre close to Tal­laght Hos­pi­tal. For more info mail me­nieres­dublin@ gmail.com or call 087 1399946 Visit me­nieres.org.uk Fit­ness in­struc­tors should avoid giv­ing ad­vice on sup­ple­ments un­less they have a di­eti­tian qual­i­fi­ca­tion. It hap­pens nearly every day where clients say they were ad­vised to take a whole range of pills. In one re­cent case in the US a gym­goer died from the toxic ef­fects of over­dos­ing and an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion to tak­ing 50 liver tablets daily, as in­structed by their gym in­struc­tor. The in­struc­tor and the gym were both sued. So my ad­vice to all fit­ness in­struc­tors is to con­cen­trate on be­ing the best you can be, give great work­outs, but don’t give ad­vice on sup­ple­ments. In­stead di­rect them to their near­est reg­is­tered di­eti­tian. There was a time when par­ents found Play­boy un­der their son’s bed, now it’s more likely to be boxes of white pow­der, prob­a­bly pro­tein pow­der or cre­a­tine. Young boys are try­ing to bulk up by con­sum­ing large por­tions of these pow­ders. Par­ents are very con­cerned and don’t re­ally know if they are safe. I re­cently gave a lec­ture in one of our top rugby schools, where 70 of the boys ad­mit­ted to tak­ing pro­tein pow­ders and cre­a­tine. The re­al­ity is that they as­sume there will be no long-term harm. In the short term, con­sti­pa­tion may re­sult as young bod­ies can­not ab­sorb too much pro­tein. If the pack­age says take two scoops, most con­sume six, and it’s sim­ply wasted. I would ad­vise peo­ple never to buy large bags of pro­tein on the in­ter­net. You don’t know what it con­tains. Buy from your reg­u­lar health store and don’t over­load. Eat real food in small por­tions over six meals a day and train hard. It is sim­ple, but a good firm hand­shake goes well be­yond ‘be­ing strong’. In re­cent stud­ies car­ried out by the Lancet, over a pe­riod of four years with over 14,000 par­tic­i­pants, they found that for every 5kg de­crease in grip strength, it was linked to higher lev­els of se­ri­ous ill­ness in­clud­ing heart at­tack and strokes. The con­clu­sion was that grip strength is a good in­di­ca­tor of your body’s age­ing rate. The stronger your grip the more bi­o­log­i­cally younger your body ap­pears to be. So go to your lo­cal gym and test your grip on a dy­namome­ter which shows how your clos­ing grip is. A good grip in sports is es­sen­tial, so in­vest in a sim­ple spring-loaded grip­per. Prac­tice every day for five min­utes, in­creas­ing in­ten­sity to close grip­per hold for five sec­onds. Re­lease and re­peat.

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