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Meniere’s Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Diagnosis

Meniere’s Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Diagnosis

Overview of Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is a rare inner ear disorder. It affects your sense of balance and hearing. Left untreated, Meniere’s disease symptoms get worse over time, which may lead to permanent hearing loss and ongoing balance issues. Meniere’s disease is typically treated with medication to reduce symptoms, which can take weeks or months before showing any results.

What is Meniere’s Disease?

Meniere’s disease is a rare inner ear disorder that affects your sense of balance and causes hearing loss. It usually sets in around middle age and is left untreated, the symptoms will get progressively worse leaving you with permanent hearing loss and ongoing balance problems. The most commonly prescribed treatment for Meniere’s disease is medication that eases the symptoms.

Meniere’s disease can cause a lot of discomfort and symptoms including dizziness, tinnitus, nausea, and a feeling of fullness in the ears.

Is Meniere’s disease serious?

Meniere’s disease is not a life-threatening illness, but it can affect quality of life. People who suffer from this disorder may experience symptoms - some of which come on without warning, return again and again, and can prevent them from living their daily lives. Here are some Meniere’s disease symptoms:

Vertigo: This feeling causes people to feel as if everything is spinning around them even though they’re standing still. They may feel the need to sit down so they don’t fall over. Vertigo can be very severe and happen without warning. Some individuals who have vertigo experience “drop attacks” — meaning that their sense of balance is thrown off and they literally topple over, which takes them to the ground because of vertigo.

When individuals suffer from Meniere’s disease, it can intensify and even create symptoms such as tinnitus, temporary hearing loss and full-blown hearing impairment.

For those who suffer from Meniere’s disease, anxiety and depression can arise from the auras and symptoms that affect hearing and balance.

What are the Causes of Meniere’s Disease

Although the source of Meniere's Disease is unknown, medical professionals believe they know how its symptoms develop.

The labyrinth, a part  of the inner ear that houses components that aid with hearing and balance, fills with fluid. The additional fluid disrupts the impulses that reach your brain, resulting in vertigo and hearing issues.

It's unclear why people develop Meniere's. Thoughts on what might impact the fluid in the inner ear range widely among researchers.

  • Poor drainage (because of blockage or an abnormal structure in your ear)
  • When your body's defence system targets healthy cells, it causes an autoimmune reaction.
  • Allergic reaction
  • Viral infection
  • Inherited tendency
  • Blow to the head
  • Migraine headaches

What are the Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease?

The symptoms of Meniere's Disease sometimes manifest as "episodes" or "attacks." These signs consist of:

  • vertigo, with attacks lasting anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours
  • loss of hearing in the affected ear
  • tinnitus, or the sensation of ringing, in the affected ear
  • aural fullness, or the feeling that the ear is full or plugged
  • loss of balance
  • headaches
  • nausea, vomiting, and sweating caused by severe vertigo

Meniere's disease patients typically experience two to three of the following signs and symptoms at one time:

  • vertigo
  • hearing loss
  • tinnitus
  • aural fullness

The majority of Meniere's disease sufferers do not have symptoms in between episodes. So, if they manifest during a time between attacks, many of these symptoms may be due to other ear issues. Another inner ear condition that resembles Meniere's disease is labyrinthitis.

What Triggers Meniere's Disease Symptoms?

The delicate process your body employs to regulate balance and hearing is disrupted when endolymph, a fluid in the inner ear, builds up, according to healthcare professionals. The cause of the rising endolymph levels is unknown.

Similar to a translator, endolymph. Your brain and inner ear use the messages it transmits and analyses to help you hear and keep your equilibrium. The signals from your inner ear become jumbled when there is too much endolymph present, making it difficult for your brain to control your sense of balance and hearing.

It's possible to inherit Ménière's disease if you have a family history of the ailment.

Stages of Meniere’s Disease

Early Stage

Ménière's Disease in its early stages cause sudden and unexpected episodes of vertigo.

There will be some hearing loss during these episodes, but it usually recovers to normal as the vertigo goes away. The ear may feel full or pressured, painful and blocked, or both. In the early stages of Ménière's Disease, tinnitus is also typical.

A person with Ménière's Disease frequently feels extremely exhausted and has to sleep for hours after experiencing a vertigo attack.

Additionally, individuals may feel the following symptoms in the early stages of the Disease:

  • diarrhea
  • blurry vision
  • jerking eye movements
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • cold sweat
  • palpitations or a rapid pulse
  • trembling

Late Stage

In the later phases of the Disease, vertigo attacks become less frequent and, in some cases, never return.

However, issues with balance, hearing, and vision may persist. In the dark, people will feel particularly unsteady. Tinnitus and hearing loss are typically progressive.

Drop attacks can also happen to a person. These involve quickly stooping or losing balance while still being conscious.

Diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease

Your symptoms and medical background will be discussed by you and your doctor. Your hearing and balance can be examined through a variety of diagnostic lab tests. These could consist of:

  • Audiometric exam: In the impacted ear, this will reveal hearing loss. It might involve a test to determine how well you can distinguish between terms like "fit" and "sit." Discrimination in speech is what that is.
  • Electronystagmogram: Your balance is evaluated by this. Your eye movements will be recorded as chilly and warm air is blown through your ear canal while you are in a darkened room.
  • Electrocochleography: This gauges the inner ear's fluid pressure.
  • Rotary chair testing: This enables your doctor to observe the effects of eye movement on your inner ear. You are seated in a chair that rotates under computer control.
  • Vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP): Your response to sudden, loud noises will be measured by this.
  • Posturography: Your ability to maintain your equilibrium is put to the test. On a platform that is mobile in different directions, you stand barefoot. Your doctor can observe how you react when the platform moves in specific ways while you're wearing a harness.
  • Video head impulse test (VHIT): This tests your ability to focus and how your eyes react to abrupt movement using video images.
  • Auditory brainstem response test (ABR): You wear headphones during this exam, and a computer records your brain waves as you react to various noises. It is typically only used for patients who cannot undergo imaging testing or other forms of hearing examinations (such as infants).
  • Additional imaging tests: To rule out the potential that something other than Meniere's is causing your symptoms, your doctor may also advise an MRI or CT scan.

Treatment of Meniere’s Disease

Your inner ear may first experience therapies to relieve pressure caused by elevated endolymph levels. They might also suggest one of the following drugs to treat vertigo:

  • Diuretics: Your body's fluid content decreases as a result of this medicine. Lowering total fluid intake may lower inner ear fluid levels.
  • Motion sickness medications: These drugs aid in reducing episodes of vertigo.
  • Antihistamines: This medication may reduce vertigo attacks

Intratympanic steroid injection: Steroid injections via the eardrum may be used by a doctor to treat Meniere’s disease episodes.

Other treatments of Meniere’s Disease

The treatment of vertigo with pressure pulses was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In order to "puff" air pressure on your middle ear during this procedure, a gadget that inserts in your outer ear is used. Endolymph levels could be impacted by air pressure on your middle ear.

In order to help patients deal with the stress, worry, and sadness Meniere’s Disease may bring on, healthcare professionals may suggest cognitive therapy.

Surgical treatments for Meniere’s disease?

Medical professionals may do surgery to treat extremely severe Meniere’s disease instances if other treatments are unsuccessful in symptom relief. Redirecting or releasing the pressure from the inner ear fluid is one surgical approach, for example:

  • Endolymphatic sac procedure: An inner ear fluid draining sac called the endolymphatic sac is located in your body. Providers cut into the endolymphatic sac to discharge fluid during the surgery. To ensure that fluid continues to flow from the sac, they may insert a stent there.
  • Vestibular nerve section: Your vestibular nerve controls hearing and balance. Vertigo and hearing loss are lessened with nerve removal.
  • Labyrinthectomy: Your labyrinth, a component of your inner ear that regulates balance, is removed during this procedure. Usually, medical professionals only do this procedure after you've lost hearing in the affected ear.

Complications of Meniere’s disease

The most disruptive feature of Meniere’s disease is the sudden onset of vertigo attacks.

The person might have to stay in bed and miss out on family, job, or social engagements.

Many nations have laws stating that people with Meniere’s Disease are not allowed to operate motor vehicles.

The person won't be allowed to drive by these authorities unless they get a doctor's note stating that their symptoms are under control.

Prevention of Meniere’s disease


A doctor may prescribe betahistine to assist lessen the frequency and severity of Ménière's disease attacks.

The fluid pressure in your inner ear is supposed to be reduced by betahistine, easing vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss symptoms.

Foods to Avoid

There isn't much evidence that dietary adjustments can be helpful.

But some report the following makes their symptoms better:

  • eating a low-salt diet
  • avoiding alcohol
  • avoiding caffeine
  • stopping smoking

Lifestyle Changes may help the Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease

In addition to food adjustments, lifestyle modifications may also help with your symptoms.

  • resting during vertigo attacks
  • eating regularly
  • managing stress and
  • anxiety through psychotherapy
  • medication

Additionally, it's crucial to stop smoking and stay away from any allergens. The effects of smoking and allergens can exacerbate Meniere's disease symptoms.

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