Meniere’s Disease

What is Meniere’s Disease?

A disorder affecting the inner ear with no exact known cause, Meniere’s Disease is usually chronic and may become life-disrupting. It usually first shows up in patients between the ages of 20 and 60, and may come and go over the years. It mainly causes vertigo, temporary hearing loss (which can become permanent over time) and tinnitus (continuous ringing).

Risk factors

  • Injuries to the head or ear
  • A family history of the disorder
  • Autoimmune disorders or viruses
  • Viral infections in the ear
  • Chronic allergies that spread from the sinuses to the ear

What are the Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease?

Meniere’s disease causes the fluid in the inner ear to build up and put too much pressure on the most sensitive parts of your ear.

Symptoms include

  • Vertigo, which involves sensations of spinning or tipping over
  • Permanent or temporary loss of hearing at any level
  • Uncomfortable sensations of pressure in the ear
  • Constant noises like hissing or crackling, also known as tinnitus

Hearing loss can progress and become permanent.

How is Meniere’s Disease Treated?

Since Meniere’s disease is not caused by an infection or specific problem with the ear’s shape, it can be difficult to treat. Similar symptoms can arise due to a tumor on the nerves responsible for either balance or hearing.

Treatments include

After ruling out an alternative diagnosis, medications are prescribed to control the tinnitus, vertigo, and other symptoms.

Some patients have antibiotics and steroids injected into the ear, but this treatment doesn’t work for everyone. Equipment that produces a small pulse of air to clear the space behind the ear drum provides relief from symptoms in many cases. For the most severe and disabling cases of tinnitus and vertigo, surgery allows the doctor to remove some of the affected nerve tissue to control the symptoms. Shunts to drain excess fluid may also work.

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Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
October 23, 2017
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