Meniere’s disease is a problem of the inner ear that is linked to vertigo (dizzy spells) and loss of hearing. Most cases of Meniere’s disease affect only one ear.
How common is Meniere’s disease? Meniere’s disease can affect kids and adults, but it is more common among middle-aged individuals. Meniere’s disease is a chronic condition, but fortunately, there are many treatments that can help alleviate symptoms to minimize the negative impacts of the disorder.
What causes Meniere’s disease?
The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is still unknown. However, the majority of the symptoms of Meniere’s disease are linked to the amount of fluid in the inner ear, also known as endolymph. The abnormal quantities of the endolymph are the main culprit of Meniere’s disease but it isn’t established as to what causes the increase of the inner ear fluid.
The following factors that may affect the fluid buildup include:
- Viral infection
- Problematic fluid drainage caused by an anatomic abnormality or a blockage
- Abnormal immune response
Since there has not been an identified exact cause of Meniere’s disease, it’s safe to say that Meniere’s disease may be caused by a combination of various factors.
What are the symptoms of Meniere’s disease?
Meniere’s disease is commonly linked to the following signs and symptoms:
- Frequent episodes of vertigo: When you feel a spinning sensation that seems to start and stop at random times. Vertigo episodes can happen without any warning and it could last between 20 minutes to several hours (but not more than 24 hours). For severe vertigo, nausea could also manifest.
- Tinnitus: Ringing in the ears is also a common manifestation of Meniere’s disease. It could also be the perception of a buzzing, whistling, roaring, or thumping sound in the ears.
- Feeling of fullness in the ears: Also known as aural fullness, this symptom is often experienced by individuals with vertigo.
- Hearing loss: People with Meniere’s disease may experience intermittent hearing loss. This symptom can manifest during the early stages of Meniere’s disease. If left untreated, this may lead to permanent hearing loss.
When to see a doctor?
It is highly recommended to see a doctor if you experience any signs or symptoms of Meniere’s disease. The said symptoms can be linked to other illnesses which is why it is highly essential to see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.
How is Meniere’s disease diagnosed?
Primarily, Meniere’s disease will be diagnosed with a comprehensive medical history. To come up with an official Meniere’s diagnosis, the following symptoms or occurrences need to be present:
- Hearing loss verified by a hearing test
- Two vertigo episodes, lasting not less than 20 minutes but not enduring 12 hours
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
A hearing test will assess how well a patient can detect sounds at various volumes and pitches. A person with Meniere’s disease is expected to have trouble with low frequencies or combined low and high frequencies while having normal hearing in the mid-range spectrum.
Since individuals with Meniere’s disease also exhibit vertigo, balance tests need to be carried out. These tests include:
- Electrocochleography (ECoG)
- Videonystagmography (VNG)
- Video head impulse test (vHIT)
- Rotary-chair testing
- Vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP) testing
Imaging scans and blood tests may be needed to further confirm the presence of Meniere’s disease. Such tests include imaging scans (MRI) or blood tests to rule out other underlying medical conditions. More serious health conditions that have similar symptoms to Meniere’s disease include brain tumors or multiple sclerosis.
How is Meniere’s disease treated?
Currently, there is not exact cure for Meniere’s disease. However, there are various treatment approaches that can help alleviate the frequency and severity of vertigo episodes linked to Meniere’s disease.
Medications for vertigo
Medications may be prescribed to help lessen a person’s struggle during a vertigo attack. These medications include:
- Anti-nausea medications: Promethazine is the most common medication to control vomiting and nausea during vertigo attacks.
- Motion sickness medications: Valium or meclizine may help significantly reduce the spinning sensation. It can also help minimize vomiting and nausea.
Meniere’s Disease Complications
Generally, the risk of getting permanent hearing loss and unpredictable spurts of vertigo are the most common complications of Meniere’s disease. If left untreated, Meniere’s disease can disrupt one’s normal way of living and may contribute to the build-up of stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
Meniere’s disease linked to vertigo may also be highly dangerous because it could cause loss of balance which increases a person’s risk of falling and other related accidents.
Meniere’s Disease Treatment in New Albany, IN
Doctors Hearing Care provides diagnosis and treatment of Meniere’s disease. Our clinic offers a wide range of hearing healthcare services and solutions to help people live a better quality of life.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment!