Introduction to Meniere’s Disease
Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder. The severity of the disease varies from patient to patient and causes ‘attacks’ that come on at random and can last for upto three hours.
What is Meniere’s Disease?
Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder. The severity of the disease varies from patient to patient and causes ‘attacks’ that come on at random and can last for upto three hours. It can take a few days to fully recover from these attacks and patients often complain of dizziness and hearing problems. The attacks can come and go and can sometimes resolve themselves over time, becoming less frequent, but can leave permanent hearing and balance issues. It is fairly rare and only affects 0.001% and is most common in the age group 20-60.
What are the causes for Meniere’s Disease?
The cause of Ménière’s disease is unknown however it is thought that it is to do with a increase in the pressure in the inner ear. The inner ear is filled with a fluid called endolymph and if there is too much of this fluid or abnormalities in the chemical constituents, the pressure can increase in this ‘closed system’. There is an increased risk where patients have a family history and/or suffer from certain medical conditions that can increase your chance of developing this condition. Autoimmune conditions, certain viruses and patients who also suffer from migraines are at an increased risk of developing Ménière’s.
What are the symptoms of Meniere’s Disease?
Many symptoms are associated with Ménière’s disease and they are all due to inner ear dysfunction. The inner ear is responsible for hearing and balance and patients therefore suffer from vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), reduced hearing and a feeling of increased pressure within the ear. Vertigo is commonly associated with nausea and vomiting due to the sickening sensation of the environment spinning.
How is Meniere’s Disease treated?
There is no cure for Ménière’s as of yet, but your Doctor can offer management for the symptoms you experience during an attack. Certain medications can reduce the likelihood of an attack, treat tinnitus, treat hearing loss that may be present, treat any psychological factors, manage balance problems and there are also some surgical procedures that can help. It is advised that patients reduce the amount of salt in their diet as this may reduce the frequency of attacks. Antihistamines are effective during an attack and your Doctor will offer management strategies for the onset of any attacks. It is important that you are in a secure and comfortable position to prevent any injuries from loss of balance. In severe cases, antihistamines can be injected to offer more immediate relief.