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Understanding Meniere’s Disease: Symptoms, Causes, & Management



Meniere's disease is an inner ear disorder that disrupts your balance and hearing. While there's no cure, understanding the condition can help you manage its symptoms and improve your quality of life.


Man experiencing vertigo

Overview

Here are some key facts about Meniere’s Disease.


Definition

The Clinical Practice Guideline: Ménière’s Disease published by the American Academy of Otolaryngology‒Head and Neck Surgery Foundation defines Meniere's disease as:

a clinical condition defined by spontaneous vertigo attacks (each lasting 20 minutes to 12 hours) with documented low- to midfrequency sensorineural hearing loss in the affected ear before, during, or after one of the episodes of vertigo.

In the same guideline, vertigo is defined as the sensation of spinning or movement when no actual movement is occurring. This sensation is distinct from dizziness, which may involve feeling lightheaded or on the verge of fainting.


Prevalence


Age of Onset

Meniere’s can occur at any age, but most individuals affected are 40 years or older. Onset typically occurs between ages 40 and 60.


While Meniere’s is called a “disease,” it remains a collection of symptoms with an unknown underlying cause and no current cure. Its hallmark is the severe vertigo that accompanies it, making it a challenging condition for those affected.


Symptoms

Meniere's disease is known for its episodic nature, characterized by sudden attacks of symptoms that can last from 20 minutes to several hours. These symptoms include:


  1. Vertigo: A sensation of spinning or dizziness, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

  2. Hearing loss: Fluctuating hearing loss, which may become permanent over time.

  3. Tinnitus: A ringing, buzzing, or roaring sound in the affected ear.

  4. Aural fullness: Feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear.


The frequency and severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person. Some individuals may have frequent attacks, while others may experience long periods of remission.



Causes

The exact cause of Meniere's disease is unknown, but several factors may contribute to its development, including:


  1. Abnormal fluid buildup: Changes in the fluid volume or composition in the inner ear can affect balance and hearing.

  2. Vascular problems: Issues with blood flow to the inner ear may play a role.

  3. Autoimmune response: Some researchers believe that Meniere's disease could be an autoimmune condition.


Other factors such as genetics, allergies, and viral infections may also increase the risk of developing Meniere's disease.



Managing Meniere's Disease

The goals of MD treatment are to prevent or reduce vertigo severity and frequency; relieve or prevent hearing loss, tinnitus, and aural fullness; and improve quality of life. While there is no cure for Meniere's disease, several treatment options can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life:


  1. Medications: Prescription medications such as diuretics, anti-nausea drugs, and vestibular suppressants may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms.

  2. Lifestyle modifications: Adopting a low-sodium diet, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and managing stress can help reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.

  3. Physical therapy: Vestibular rehabilitation therapy can improve balance and reduce the impact of vertigo.

  4. Surgery: In severe cases, surgical procedures such as endolymphatic sac decompression or vestibular nerve section may be considered.



Take Control of Your Balance

Meniere's disease can disrupt your equilibrium, but it doesn't have to throw your life off balance. If you suspect you have Meniere's disease or if you struggle with similar symptoms such as vertigo, hearing loss, or tinnitus, visit ENT Family in Hollywood, FL for expert evaluation and personalized care.


Address: 3911 Hollywood Blvd#201, Hollywood, FL 33021, United States

Phone: 754-888-1368





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Dr. David Eleff, Otolaryngologist/Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist at ENT Family in Hollywood, Florida.

This article has been medically reviewed by  otolaryngologist, David Eleff, M.D.

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