What is Meniere’s Disease?

Woman leaning against wall because of recurring dizziness.

The cause of Meniere’s isn’t well understood. But the effects are difficult to ignore. Ringing in the ears, dizziness, vertigo, and hearing loss are all common symptoms of this condition. Scientists aren’t really certain why, but for some reason, fluid can accumulate in the ears and this seems to be the root cause of Meniere’s disease.

So the question is: if something doesn’t have an identifiable cause, how can it be managed? It’s a complex answer.

What exactly is Meniere’s disease?

Meniere’s disease is a chronic disorder that impacts the inner ear. For many patients, Meniere’s disease is progressive, meaning symptoms will get worse over time. Those symptoms may include:

Unpredictable spells of vertigo: Unfortunately, there’s no way to know when these episodes of vertigo may strike or how long they could last.

Tinnitus: The severity of this tinnitus could ebb and flow, but it’s not unusual for those with Meniere’s Disease to have ringing in their ears.

Fullness in the ear: This is experienced as a sensation of pressure in your ears and is medically referred to as aural fullness.

Hearing loss: Over time, Meniere’s disease can result in a loss of hearing.

It’s important that you get an accurate diagnosis if you’re experiencing these symptoms. Symptoms of Meniere’s disease can appear and disappear for many individuals. But as the disease advances, the symptoms will most likely become more persistent.

How is Meniere’s disease treated?

Meniere’s disease is a progressive and persistent condition for which there is no known cure. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any way to treat it.

Some of the most common treatments include the following:

  • Steroid shots: Injections of certain kinds of steroids can temporarily help relieve some Meniere’s symptoms, particularly in regards to vertigo.
  • Surgery: In some situations, surgery is utilized to address Meniere’s. However, these surgical techniques will normally only affect the vertigo side of symptoms. Other Meniere’s symptoms will remain.
  • Diuretic: A diuretic is another medication option that might be prescribed by your doctor. The idea here is that the pressure in the inner ear can be minimized by decreasing retention of fluid. This is a long-term medication that you’d use as opposed to one to reduce acute symptoms.
  • Hearing aid: As Meniere’s disease progresses and your hearing loss gets worse, you might want to try a hearing aid. Generally, a hearing aid won’t necessarily impede the advancement of your hearing loss. But it can benefit your mental health by keeping you socially engaged. There are also numerous ways hearing aids can help treat tinnitus.
  • Medications: Anti-nausea and anti-dizziness medications can be prescribed by your doctor in some cases. If those particular symptoms show up, this can be helpful. For instance, medications made to help with motion sickness could help you feel less dizzy when a bout of vertigo takes place.
  • Rehabilitation: There are rehabilitation and physical therapy strategies that can help you preserve balance when Meniere’s disease is flaring up. If you’re regularly dizzy or dealing with vertigo, this strategy may be warranted.
  • Positive pressure therapy: When Meniere’s disease is especially hard to manage, this non-invasive method can be used. It’s called positive pressure therapy. As a way to limit fluid accumulation, the inner ear is exposed to positive pressure. While positive pressure therapy is promising, the long-term advantages of this method have not been backed up by peer-reviewed research.

The key is finding the treatment that’s best for you

If you believe you have Meniere’s disease, you should get evaluated. Treatments for Meniere’s can sometimes reduce the progression of your condition. But these treatments more frequently help you have a better quality of life despite your condition.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.