What is Meniere’s Disease?

Woman leaning against wall because of recurring dizziness.

The cause of Meniere’s isn’t well understood. But it’s difficult to dismiss its effects. Some common symptoms of this affliction are dizziness, vertigo, ringing in the ears, and hearing loss. Symptoms of Meniere’s disease appear to stem from an accumulation of fluid in the inner ear, but scientists aren’t really certain what causes that accumulation to begin with.

So here’s the question: if a condition doesn’t have a discernible cause, how can it be addressed? The answer is, well, complicated.

Exactly what is Meniere’s disease?

Meniere’s disease is a chronic condition that affects the inner ear. For many individuals, Meniere’s disease is progressive, meaning symptoms will grow worse as time passes. Those symptoms may include:

Unpredictable bouts of vertigo: Sadly, when these bouts of vertigo will strike and how long they will last can’t be predicted.

Tinnitus: It’s relatively common for individuals with Meniere’s disease to have ringing in the ears or tinnitus, which can range from mild to severe.

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

Hearing loss: Meniere’s disease can result in hearing loss over time.

If you notice these symptoms, it’s crucial to get an accurate diagnosis. For many individuals with Meniere’s, symptoms are intermittent. But as the disease advances, the symptoms will 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 aren’t any treatments.

The following are a few of those treatments:

  • Diuretic: A diuretic is another medication alternative that may be prescribed by your physician. The idea here is that the pressure in the inner ear can be lessened by decreasing fluid retention. This is a long-term medication that you’d use rather than one to minimize severe symptoms.
  • Positive pressure therapy: There’s a non-invasive method used when Meniere’s is especially hard to manage. It’s known as positive pressure therapy. In order to minimize fluid accumulation, the inner ear is exposed to positive pressure. While positive pressure therapy is promising, the long-term benefits of this approach have yet to be backed up by peer-reviewed research.
  • Rehabilitation: When Meniere’s disease is acting up, You can utilize certain physical therapies that can help with balance. If you’re regularly dizzy or experiencing vertigo, this approach might be warranted.
  • Hearing aid: As Meniere’s disease advances and your hearing loss gets worse, you may want to get a hearing aid. Typically, a hearing aid won’t necessarily slow the advancement of your hearing loss. But it can help keep you socially active which can give a boost to your mental health. Hearing aids can also help you deal with the symptoms of tinnitus in a number of ways.
  • Medications: Anti-nausea and anti-dizziness medications can be prescribed by your doctor in some situations. This can help when those specific symptoms appear. So, when a bout of dizziness happens, medication for motion sickness can help decrease that dizziness.
  • Steroid shots: Some symptoms of Meniere’s, especially vertigo, can be temporarily alleviated with injections of specific steroids.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery is used to treat Meniere’s. However, these surgical procedures will normally only impact the vertigo side of symptoms. It won’t affect the other symptoms.

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

If you suspect you have Meniere’s disease, you should get examined. Treatments for Meniere’s can sometimes reduce the progression of your condition. But these treatments more often help you have a greater quality of life in spite of 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.