Meniere’s Disease: Symptoms, Treatments, and Coping Strategies

Meniere’s disease is a condition that affects your inner-ear. Symptoms of the disease can include vertigo, tinnitus, pain or pressure in the ear, and hearing loss. The disease is named after a French doctor, Prosper Ménière. The common belief in the early 1800s was that the symptoms of Meniere’s Disease came from the brain. Ménière was the first to suggest in the 1860s that the symptoms were caused by the inner-ear, and not the brain.

Causes of Meniere’s Disease

Although the exact cause of Meniere’s disease is still unknown, doctors and researchers believe it is caused by changes to the fluid levels in the labyrinth, a part of the inner ear. Your labyrinth is part of your auditory system that plays an important part in hearing and balance. When extra fluid is present in the labyrinth, as is the case with Meniere’s disease, it interferes with signals sent to your brain. This can result in hearing loss or vertigo.

It’s still unknown what causes the disruption to the fluid in the inner ear. Some of the suspected causes include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Autoimmune response
  • Viral infection
  • Abnormal structure or blockage in your ear resulting in poor drainage
  • Migraines

Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease

People who suffer from Meniere’s disease will commonly experience symptoms as ‘attacks’ or ‘episodes’. Sudden dizzy spells may follow the experience of muffled or muted hearing, or symptoms of tinnitus. Some people experience more severe episodes or attacks that can last over a period of several days, while others may only experience an infrequent, isolated attack. Other symptoms include:

  • Vertigo
  • Loss of hearing in the affected ear
  • A feeling of fullness in the affected ear
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Balance problems

Treating Meniere’s Disease

Unfortunately, research into the treatment for Meniere’s disease is still in its relative infancy. To date, the Cochrane Collaboration have found two treatments that have sufficient evidence from clinical trials to support their use. These are:

  • Inner ear injections of an antibiotic, gentamycin, to help relieve dizziness. According to the Cochrane researchers, this helped with dizziness but increased the risk of hearing loss.
  • Inner ear injections of steroids. This helps to combat inflammation within the inner-ear.

If you are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, dizziness and tinnitus together, we recommend booking in an appointment with your primary care doctor. Treatment of Meniere’s disease generally requires a referral to an ENT physician. They can help recommend means of relieving the symptoms of Meniere’s disease, which may include dietary changes or other lifestyle changes.

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If you are experiencing hearing loss, consider consulting with your local hearing healthcare professionals. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of certified hearing care professionals at Hearing Services of Delaware.

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