The following information may help to address your question:
What is Ménière's disease?
is an abnormality of the inner ear. Signs and symptoms may include disabling vertigo
or severe dizziness lasting from minutes to hours; tinnitus
or a roaring sound in the ears; fluctuating hearing loss; and the sensation of pressure or pain in the affected ear. A small percentage of people have drop attacks
. The disorder usually affects only one ear, but some people develop symptoms in both ears many years after their initial diagnosis. Although the exact cause of Ménière's disease is unknown, the symptoms are thought to be associated with a change in fluid volume within a portion of the inner ear known as the labyrinth. Treatment may include medications or surgery depending on the severity of the condition.
Last updated: 12/21/2016
What causes Ménière's disease?
Last updated: 12/20/2016
What are the signs and symptoms of Ménière's disease?
The symptoms of Ménière's disease typically occur suddenly and may be experienced daily, or as infrequently as once a year. Vertigo
, often the most debilitating symptom of Ménière's disease, typically involves a whirling dizziness that forces the affected person to lie down. Vertigo attacks can lead to severe nausea, vomiting, and sweating, and often come with little or no warning.
Some people with Ménière's disease have attacks that start with tinnitus
(ear noises), a loss of hearing, or a full feeling or pressure in the affected ear. It is important to remember that all of these symptoms are unpredictable. Typically, the attack is characterized by a combination of vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss lasting several hours. People experience these discomforts at varying frequencies, durations, and intensities. Some may feel slight vertigo a few times a year. Others may be occasionally disturbed by intense, uncontrollable tinnitus while sleeping. Affected people may also notice hearing loss or feel unsteady for prolonged periods. Other occasional symptoms of Ménière's disease may include headaches, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea. A person's hearing tends to recover between attacks but over time may become worse.
Meniere's disease usually starts in one ear but it may extend to involve both ears over time.
Last updated: 12/16/2016
How is Ménière's disease diagnosed?
A diagnosis of Ménière's disease is often suspected based on the presence of characteristic signs and symptoms. These may include:
- Two or more episodes of vertigo lasting at least 20 min each
- Temporary hearing loss
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
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.
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.
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.
Last updated: 12/20/2016
How might Ménière's disease be treated?
At the present time there is no cure for Ménière's disease, but lifestyle modifications and some treatments can help affected people cope with the symptoms.
The symptoms of the disease are often controlled successfully by reducing the body’s retention of fluids through dietary changes (such as a low-salt or salt-free diet and no caffeine or alcohol).
Medications such as antihistamines, anticholinergics, and diuretics may lower endolymphatic pressure by reducing the amount of endolymphatic fluid.
Eliminating tobacco use and reducing stress levels may also help lessen the severity of symptoms.
Symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, and associated nausea and vomiting may respond to certain medications.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a device for Ménière’s disease that fits into the outer ear and delivers intermittent air pressure pulses to the middle ear (pressure pulse treatment). The air pressure pulses appear to act on endolymph fluid to prevent dizziness.
Different surgical procedures are an option for people with persistent, debilitating vertigo. Labyrinthectomy
(removal of the inner ear sense organ) can effectively control vertigo, but sacrifices hearing and is reserved for patients with nonfunctional hearing in the affected ear. Vestibular neurectomy
, selectively severing a nerve from the affected inner ear organ, usually controls the vertigo while preserving hearing but carries surgical risks. Recently, the administration of the ototoxic antibiotic gentamycin
directly into the middle ear space has gained popularity worldwide for the control of vertigo associated with Ménière's disease.
Last updated: 12/20/2016
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