Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear. It causes episodes in which you feel as if you’re spinning (vertigo), and you have fluctuating hearing loss with a progressive, ultimately permanent loss of hearing, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and sometimes a feeling of fullness or pressure in your ear.

The cause isn’t known, but it sometimes runs in families. The symptoms usually develop over hours to days. Meniere’s disease can be disabling, but treatments are available that may help relieve symptoms. Medications may not cure this condition, but they can often help control vertigo attacks and tinnitus symptoms. Surgery may be an option for some people who don’t improve with medications.

In the United States, approximately 600,000 people have Meniere’s disease. It usually affects people from ages 20 to 50, but it can occur at any age. Meniere’s disease is more common in men and in African Americans.

Symptoms of Meniere’s disease:

Meniere’s syndrome is a disorder characterized by episodes of vertigo (a spinning sensation) associated with tinnitus (ringing sound in the ear), a feeling of fullness or pressure in one ear, and fluctuating hearing loss often described as “muffled” or “blocked.”

Hearing loss occurs because all three vestibular organs are hit either directly or indirectly by the abnormal inner ear fluids. In addition to these symptoms, some people with Meniere’s syndrome also experience a periodic loss of balance that may last from minutes to hours or longer.

Although the exact cause of Meniere’s syndrome is poorly understood, the condition is thought to be related to another disorder called Meniere’s disease. In some cases, these disorders appear together; in other cases only one or the other condition is present.

Research suggests that both disorders may result from abnormally high fluid pressure on the inner ear and/or malfunctioning of certain structures in the inner ear (such as hair cells and sensory cells).

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The sudden attacks of vertigo associated with Meniere’s syndrome can be very disabling and make it difficult for people with this condition to maintain their normal routines. Fortunately, medications available today help control the symptoms of vertigo and, in some cases, may even reduce the severity and number of attacks. In most cases, Meniere’s syndrome is not life-threatening. However, the condition often persists over a long period of time and can be quite debilitating.

Meniere’s disease:

The cause isn’t known but it sometimes runs in families. The symptoms usually develop over hours to days. Meniere’s disease can be disabling but treatments are available that may help relieve the symptoms. Medications aren’t always helpful but they can often control vertigo attacks and tinnitus symptoms. Surgery might be an option for some people if other treatments haven’t helped enough.

In the United States, approximately 600 000 people have Meniere’s disease. It usually affects people from age 20 to 50 but it can occur at any age. Meniere’s disease is more common in men and in African Americans.

Symptoms of Meniere’s disease:

Meniere’s syndrome is a disorder characterized by episodes of vertigo (a spinning sensation) associated with tinnitus (ringing sound in the ear), a feeling of fullness or pressure in one ear, and fluctuating hearing loss often described as “muffled” or “blocked.”

Hearing loss occurs because all three vestibular organs are hit either directly or indirectly by the abnormal inner ear fluids. In addition to these symptoms, some people with Meniere’s syndrome also experience a periodic loss of balance that may last from minutes to hours or longer.

Although the exact cause of Meniere’s syndrome is poorly understood, the condition is thought to be another disorder called Meniere’s disease. In some cases, these disorders appear together; in other cases only one or the other condition is present. Research suggests that both disorders may result from abnormally high fluid pressure on the inner ear and/or malfunctioning of certain structures in the inner ear (such as hair cells and sensory cells).

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The sudden attacks of vertigo associated with Meniere’s syndrome can be very disabling and make it difficult for people with this condition to maintain their normal routines.

Fortunately, medications available today help control the symptoms of vertigo and, in some cases, may even reduce the severity and number of attacks. In most cases, Meniere’s syndrome is not life-threatening. However, the condition often persists over a long period of time and can be quite debilitating.

Meniere’s disease:

The cause isn’t known but it sometimes runs in families. The symptoms usually develop over hours to days. Meniere’s disease can be disabling but treatments are available that may help relieve the symptoms. Medications aren’t always helpful but they can often control vertigo attacks and tinnitus symptoms. Surgery might be an option for some people if other treatments haven’t helped enough.

In the United States, approximately 600 000 people have Meniere’s disease. It usually affects people from age 20 to 50 but it can occur at any age. Meniere’s disease is more common in men and in African Americans.

Diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease Some evidence suggests that early diagnosis and treatment of Meniere’s disease may help prevent some of the complications of this disorder. These complications include hearing loss, permanent balance problems, and repeated episodes of vertigo. Signs and symptoms of Meniere’s disease usually involve only one ear but may affect both ears in some people. Other possible causes of similar signs and symptoms must be ruled out before a diagnosis of Meniere’s disease is made.

The diagnostic evaluation for a person who has experienced episodes that suggest Meniere’s disease includes:

• A thorough medical history to help identify factors that may contribute to the development or triggering of signs and symptoms (known as triggers), such as allergies or infections, including a review of systems

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• A physical examination to look for signs and symptoms of Meniere’s disease

• If Meniere’s disease is suspected, tests may be done to check for balance problems, including testing eye movements with a procedure called electronystagmography (ENG).

In this test, warm and cool water or air is delivered to the ear. ENG can help identify any abnormal nerve-related reflexes that may cause vertigo or nystagmus. It also allows otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors) to observe the responses while listening to the sound of the patient’s own voice through a microphone in each ear canal.

Causes of Meniere’s Disease The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is still unknown but researchers have found clues that suggest possible causes. One theory suggests that Meniere’s disease is caused by increased pressure of the fluid in the inner ear. Some people may be born with a defect in the structure of their ears that makes them more susceptible to this type of increased pressure and subsequent damage to balance structures inside their ears.

The immune system also may play a role because some cases run in families and evidence suggests that the body’s own defense system (the immune system) contributes to the development of symptoms such as vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss

Additional theories suggest that allergies or autoimmune disorders may trigger an abnormal reaction leading to damage to certain areas of the ear, although it isn’t clear exactly how this might happen.

Researchers also are looking into the possibility that some people with Meniere’s disease may have a viral infection that contributes to the development of symptoms. Studies suggest that even though viral infections have been shown to cause inner ear problems, they are not likely responsible for all cases of Meniere’s disease.

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