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Meniere's Disease: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Meniere's disease is a rare condition that affects the inner ear.  As a result of the condition, hearing loss and tinnitus may become more progressive and ultimately become permanent.

In this guide we will cover:

  • What is Meniere's disease?
  • Meniere's disease symptoms
  • What causes Meniere's disease?
  • Meniere's disease treatment

What is Meniere's Disease?

Meniere's disease can be characterized by sudden attacks of hearing loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), vertigo, and the sensation of ear fullness.

Usually, only one ear is affected, but in other cases, both ears may experience episodes. It is believed that Meniere's disease commonly affects adults aged 20-60 (typically from 40+). Approximately 1 in every 1000 people can be affected by the condition.

It was identified by French doctor Prosper Meniere in the nineteenth century, of whom the discovery is named after. It's considered a chronic condition. Treatments are available to help relieve some symptoms of what is described as an incurable disorder. 

It is recommended that if you believe you may be suffering from the condition, you visit your GP or a licensed medical practitioner.

Meniere's Disease Symptoms

As with any medical condition, the disorder features multiple symptoms, which typically all occur at once, lasting from minutes to hours. Symptoms are often sudden and unexpected.

meniere's disease

 During an attack of Ménière's disease, you could experience:

  • Ringing in the ear (including buzzing sounds)
  • A sudden loss of hearing
  • Dizziness with a spinning sensation
  • Feel unstable on your feet
  • Nausea

The condition often begins in one ear to begin with but could affect both ears over time. An attack may occur a few times a week, or they could even be separated by weeks, months or years. At the onset of an episode, it is not possible to tell how frequent future attacks may occur.

After a Meniere's episode, it may take several days for the symptoms to completely disappear. Usually, the symptoms last two to three hours and it is likely you will feel tired after experiencing Meniere's symptoms.

Like any hearing-related condition, symptoms can vary from person to person. If you experience any of the above, you should visit a medical professional.

Meniere's Disease Causes

The cause of Meniere's disease remains unknown. It is believed that genetic and environmental factors are involved which can cause slight biological changes and damage to the inner ear. However, an overall root cause is difficult to identify. This is amplified by the rarity of the condition.

A number of theories are said to be possible Meniere's causes. Causes can be associated with ear pressure problems, constricted blood vessels, and infections.

The listed circumstances could increase the risk of Meniere's disease:

  • Migraines
  • Head injury or trauma
  • Viral infection
  • Disorder of the immune system
  • Family history of Meniere's disease

Meniere's Disease Treatment

As it stands, there is no cure for the condition. Why there may not be many treatments for the disorder, there are some ways to help prevent or reduce the risk of experience an attack.

Medications, diet, therapy, and counseling, along with some surgical methods can assist the management of the disorder.

Medication can be used to help control vertigo (antihistamines), vomiting, and nausea (prochlorperazine). A medical professional may be able to assist the management of other symptoms such as tinnitus and hearing loss. 

Your GP or medical professional could refer you to see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist whom should be able to identify if the condition is present or not. 

What to do During an Attack

When a sudden episode occurs, it's likely you will experience all or at least many of the symptoms at once.

At first, Vertigo could make you feel unsteady and lose balance. To help deal with the condition when an episode strikes, you should:

  • Sit or lie down
  • Refrain from moving your head too quickly
  • Keep your eyes closed or fixated on an immobile object
  • Take any medication if necessary

Depending on the severity of a Meniere's attack, extra efforts may be needed. For example, you may be advised to take prochlorperazine via injection rather than orally for a quicker response. Or, to tackle vertigo, surgery may be a recommended action. 

Once an attack has ceased, moving around could help your eyesight and other senses compensate problems the ear is experiencing. Upon the first experience of a potential Meniere's attack, you should seek medical attention.

How to Manage Hearing Loss

A possible result of ongoing Meniere's attacks could be hearing loss and/or tinnitus. There are a number of ways to effectively manage hearing loss. First, you need to identify which type of hearing impairment you have, e.g. sensorineural hearing loss or conductive hearing loss.

Depending on the type of hearing loss, hearing aids may present the most effective way to deal with impairment. We supply a wide selection of digital hearing aids to help improve your quality of life. We also offer a range of tinnitus aids to help ease the condition.

Online Hearing Test

If you believe you may be suffering from some form of hearing loss, take our hearing test.

The online hearing check is free, only takes a few minutes, and results are instant. The outcome of the test can help identify if you should take further action to prevent hearing loss.

About Hearing Direct

We are one of the world's leading hearing specialists. We supply a wide range of hearing aidshearing aid batteriesaccessories such as ear plugs. At Hearing Direct, you will also find amplified devices such as super loud alarm clocks and phones designed for the hearing impaired. 

For more information on Meniere's disease, visit: http://www.menieres.org.uk/information-and-support/symptoms-and-conditions/menieres-disease

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