Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear. It leads to vertigo (dizzy spells or feeling off-balance) and hearing loss. Ménière’s disease is a unilateral disorder which means it affects only one ear.
The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is unknown. It occurs as a result of an abnormal or excessive amount of fluid (endolymph) in the inner ear. The possible reasons for an excessive amount of endolymph in the inner ear are:
- Viral infection
- Autoimmune disease
- Improper drainage of endolymph
- Genetic disorder
Symptoms of Ménière’s disease include:
- Hearing loss – in the affected ear
- Vertigo – dizzy spells
- Tinnitus – ringing sensation in the ear
- Loss of balance
- Aural fullness – feeling pressure in the affected ear
- Nausea, vomiting, sweating
Diagnostic procedures for Meniere’s disease include the following:
- Review of signs and symptoms
- Medical history
- Hearing tests or audiological evaluation
- Balance assessments including:
- VEMP -Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential
- ECoG – Electrocochleography
- VNG – Videonystagmography
- Imaging procedures like CT and MRI
Diagnosis of Meniere’s disease requires blood tests and imaging procedures to rule out the existence of other conditions which shows similar symptoms to that of Ménière’s disease.
Meniere’s disease cannot be prevented. Certain lifestyle measures can be taken to reduce the frequency of vertigo attacks and other symptoms.
- Avoid alcohols, smoking and caffeine
- Avoid exposure to loud noise
- Choose a saltless diet or reduce salt in the diet
- Manage stress
- Take rest and avoid falls during vertigo attacks.
Ménière’s disease has no complete cure. Treatment can be done to manage the symptoms and reduce its severity, especially vertigo. Hearing loss that occurs cannot be reversed often.
- Medications can be given for vertigo and nausea.
- Hearing aids help in improving the hearing.
- Vestibular rehabilitation therapy might be required to treat balance problems.
- Middle ear injections like steroids are also being used, which gets absorbed into the inner ear and decreases vertigo.
- Surgery might be required in severe conditions and when other treatment measures do not help. Some of the surgical procedures include:
- Labyrinthectomy: the labyrinth or the part of the inner ear associated with a balance is removed, which also means the hearing function is also removed. This procedure is done only if there is a nearly complete or complete loss of hearing.
- Vestibular nerve section: this procedure is done to eliminate recurrent attacks of vertigo while preserving hearing of the affected ear.
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