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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Ménière's disease


* Not a rare disease
Other Names for this Disease
  • Meniere disease
  • Meniere's disease
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Tests & Diagnosis

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How is Ménière's disease diagnosed?

The hallmark of Ménière's disease is the fluctuation, waxing and waning of symptoms.[1]  Proper diagnosis of Ménière's disease entails several procedures, including a medical history interview; a physical examination; hearing and balance tests; and medical imaging with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Accurate measurement and characterization of hearing loss are of critical importance in the diagnosis of Ménière's disease.[2]

Through the use of several types of hearing tests, physicians can characterize hearing loss as being sensory (arising from the inner ear) or neural (arising from the hearing nerve). Recording the auditory brain stem response, which measures electrical activity in the hearing nerve and brain stem, is useful in differentiating between these two types of hearing loss. Electrocochleography, recording the electrical activity of the inner ear in response to sound, helps confirm the diagnosis.[2]

To test the vestibular or balance system, physicians irrigate the ears with warm and cool water or air. This procedure, known as caloric testing, results in nystagmus, rapid eye movements that can help a physician analyze a balance disorder. Since tumor growth can produce symptoms similar to Ménière's disease, an MRI is a useful test to determine whether a tumor is causing the patient's vertigo and hearing loss.[2]

Last updated: 3/12/2013

  1. Sajjadi, H and Paparella, M. Meniere's disease. Lancet. August 2, 2008;
  2. Ménière's Disease . National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). 2010; Accessed 2/9/2011.