Ménière’s disease is a chronic disorder of the inner ear that causes dizziness, hearing loss, and tinnitus. It’s caused by a buildup of fluids and usually develops between the ages of 40 and 60. The condition is incurable, but various treatments are available for effective management of symptoms.
What Causes Meniere’s Disease?
Nobody is sure exactly what causes Ménière’s disease. Theories abound: circulation disorders, viral infections, allergies, migraines, ear canal obstructions, and head trauma have all been proposed as possible causes, but research is inconclusive.
People with Ménière’s disease suffer progressive attacks that are often characterized by warning signs in advance. These include loss of balance, dizziness, headache, increased hearing loss and/or tinnitus, sensitivity to noises, and pressure in the ear. During the attack, patients may experience episodes of severe vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss, fullness in the ear, and tinnitus. These symptoms may be accompanied by anxiety, blurry vision, nausea, vomiting, trembling, rapid pulse, and diarrhea. Afterwards, exhaustion often sets in, leading to an increased need for sleep. Attacks may be brief, lasting for as little as 20 minutes, or may persist for as long as 24 hours. Their frequency is unpredictable and sporadic; they may occur several times a week, or as little as once every few years.
Ménière’s disease is a chronic disorder of the inner ear that causes dizziness, hearing loss, and tinnitus.
How Can Meniere’s Disease Be Treated?
Treatment for Ménière’s disease involves reducing the severity of attacks while they occur, and limiting the number of overall attacks. A reduced-sodium diet, coupled with the use of diuretics, is a popular long-term solution aimed at reducing inner ear fluids. Other treatment options include medications to control vertigo and nausea, and vestibular rehabilitation therapy that helps retrain the body and brain to process balance information.
Surgical options may be proposed if the condition does not respond well to changes in diet and medication.
Due to the unpredictable nature of this disease, it’s impossible to tell just how much it will affect a patient’s life.