M̩ni̬res Disease Рthe common rare disease

Until I went to an ear specialist for an unusual weird loss of balance migraine thing, I’d never heard of Ménière’s Disease. I was told it was rather rare and there was no way of diagnosing it, apart from ruling everything else out. A few years later, and once everything else had been ruled out, I was diagnosed, provisionally, with this rare inner-ear disorder. Then I moved country from France to my native UK. Once again, they had to rule everything out, but they were pretty quickly convinced I had Ménière’s and I was put on a rolling prescription of Betahistine, which has reduced the severity of it for the past couple of years. Anyway, sob story and tinnitus aside, this isn’t about the disease as much as it is about how rare it … um, isn’t.

Betahistine Hydrochloride, 16mg
Betahistine Hydrochloride, 16mg

I suspect you’ve never heard of it, as I hadn’t when it was suspected to be the cause of my ear problems. However, shortly after hearing about it, it appeared everyone knew someone with it. My best mate, who returned to Scotland from Japan the year before I did, was diagnosed with it. My brother in Thailand doesn’t have it, but his wife does, as does his ex-boss’s mother. Friends, plural, of my missus’s family have it. Alan Shepard landed on the moon after being cured of it (cures are apparently risky and don’t always work) and Guy Kawasaki blames his attacks on Powerpoint. Julius bloody Caesar had it! It’s not rare, yet no-one has heard of it.

So, when I finally get an obscure incommunicable disease that will make me interesting at cocktail parties, it turns out everyone already has it, thank you very much. Great. Whoopee. To make matters worse, the cure is “sometimes it just goes away.”

Jared Earle is a writer, photographer and systems administrator. You can find him on Twitter most of the time.