What is Meniere's Disease?
Meniere's Disease is a disorder that can affect your inner ear, which is responsible for your body's balance and hearing. While Meniere's Disease typically causes dizziness, it can also lead to some degree of hearing loss.
While middle-aged individuals usually face Meniere's Disease, this condition can occur at any age. Although it's chronic, treatments and changes to your lifestyle can help to ease and control the symptoms.
Causes of Meniere's Disease
The exact cause of Meniere's Disease is not currently known to scientists and doctors, but the current theory is that is is caused by changes to the fluid in the inner ear. Health issues that can affect the inner ear fluid can potentially lead to the onset of Meniere's Disease. These issues may include the following:
- Viral infection of the inner ear.
- Genetically predisposed to inner ear issues.
- Insufficient or abnormal response by your immune system.
- Insufficient or abnormal fluid drainage from your ears.
- Abnormality or blockage affecting the fluid in the inner ear.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Meniere's Disease
Symptoms and signs of Meniere's Disease primarily involve dizziness or loss of balance (vertigo). The dizziness may start and stop randomly and can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. If the dizziness is acute, nausea may soon follow.
Symptoms of Meniere's Disease may also include temporary or sporadic loss of hearing, ringing or buzzing noise in the ear (tinnitus), headache, and/or a feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear.
If you experience these symptoms, your ENT specialist will typically perform testing and examine your balance and hearing. The tests and analysis by your ENT specialist will confirm if you suffer from Meniere's Disease or if there is another cause, after which they can recommend proper treatment.
Treatments for Meniere's Disease
There is currently no known cure for Meniere's Disease. However, there are various treatments that your ENT specialist will recommend to address your symptoms. These treatments typically include medication or physical therapy. In the most severe cases, treatment may also include surgery.
Medication may be prescribed by your ENT specialist to help address the symptoms of Meniere's Disease. These may include medications for motion sickness, which can lessen the feelings of vertigo and nausea.
As Meniere's Disease is thought to be caused by issues with inner ear fluid, your ENT specialist may also prescribe medicine that address the amount of fluid in your body. Since Meniere's Disease typically only affects one ear, physical therapy exercises can help to train your brain and your body to recognize the differences between the affected ear and the unaffected ear, easing the symptoms of vertigo.
If other treatments are unsuccessful, surgery is an option. It may involve a procedure that decreases the production of fluid and facilitates proper fluid drainage from the inner ear.