What is Meniere’s Disease?

Woman leaning against wall because of recurring dizziness.

No one’s really sure what causes Meniere’s disease. But the impacts are difficult to ignore. Some common symptoms of this condition are vertigo, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and hearing loss. Scientists aren’t really sure 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 addressed? The answer is, well, complicated.

What exactly is Meniere’s disease?

There’s a chronic affliction that impacts the inner ear and it’s called Meniere’s disease. Symptoms of Meniere’s will get worse over time, for many patients, because it’s a progressive condition. Here are some of those symptoms:

Unpredictable spells of vertigo: Sadly, when these episodes will occur and how long they may last can’t be predicted.

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

Fullness in the ear: This symptom is medically called aural fullness, the feeling of pressure in your ear.

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

If you experience these symptoms, it’s crucial to get an accurate diagnosis. For many people with Meniere’s, symptoms are intermittent. But as the disease advances, the symptoms will probably become more consistent.

How is Meniere’s disease treated?

There is no known cure for Menier’s disease which is persistent and progressive. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any treatments.

Some of the most prevalent treatments include the following:

  • Steroid shots: Some symptoms of Meniere’s, particularly vertigo, can be temporarily alleviated with injections of specific steroids.
  • Surgery: In some situations, surgery is used to treat Meniere’s. Typically, however, only the vertigo part of the disease is impacted by this surgery. Other Meniere’s symptoms will continue.
  • Medications: In some situations, your doctor will be able to prescribe anti-dizziness and anti-nausea medications. If those specific symptoms show up, this can be helpful. For instance, medications created to help with motion sickness could help you feel less dizzy when a bout of vertigo occurs.
  • Hearing aid: It might be time to try hearing aids if Meniere’s disease is progressing to the point where your ability to hear is faltering. Normally, a hearing aid won’t necessarily slow the advancement of your hearing loss. But it can benefit your mental health by keeping you socially engaged. Hearing aids can also help you manage the symptoms of tinnitus in several ways.
  • Diuretic: A diuretic is another medication option that may be prescribed by your doctor. The idea here is that the pressure in the inner ear can be lessened by decreasing retention of fluid. This is a long-term medication that you’d take instead of one to minimize extreme symptoms.
  • Rehabilitation: There are rehabilitation and physical therapy methods that can help you preserve balance when Meniere’s disease is acting up. This approach may be a useful strategy if you’re experiencing regular dizziness or vertigo.
  • Positive pressure therapy: There’s a non-invasive approach employed when Meniere’s is particularly difficult to treat. It’s known as positive pressure therapy. In order to minimize fluid buildup, the inner ear is exposed to positive pressure. While positive pressure therapy is encouraging, the long-term advantages of this approach have not been backed up by peer-reviewed research.

Find the right treatment for you

You should get an exam if think you might have Meniere’s disease. The development of Meniere’s disease may be slowed down by these treatments. But these treatments more often 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.