What is Meniere’s Disease?

Woman leaning against wall because of recurring dizziness.

No one’s quite certain what causes Meniere’s disease. But it’s hard to ignore its effects. Ringing in the ears, vertigo, dizziness, and hearing loss are all common symptoms of this condition. Researchers aren’t really sure why, but for some reason, fluid can build up in the ears and this appears to be the underlying cause of Meniere’s disease.

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

What exactly is Meniere’s disease?

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

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

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

Fullness in the ear: This is experienced as a feeling of pressure in your ears and is medically called aural fullness.

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

It’s important that you get an accurate diagnosis if you’re noticing these symptoms. Symptoms of Meniere’s disease can appear and disappear for many individuals. But as the disease progresses, the symptoms will most likely 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 isn’t any way to treat it.

The following are a few of those treatments:

  • Diuretic: Another form of medication that your physician may prescribe is a diuretic. The idea is that decreasing the retention of fluids might help minimize pressure on your inner ear. 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 grows worse, you may want to try a hearing aid. The progression of your hearing loss won’t necessarily be slowed down by hearing aids. But it can help keep you socially engaged which can give a boost to your mental health. Hearing aids can also help you deal with the symptoms of tinnitus in numerous ways.
  • Medications: Anti-nausea and anti-dizziness medications can be prescribed by your physician in some instances. This can be helpful when those particular symptoms appear. So, when an episode of dizziness happens, medication for motion sickness can help decrease that dizziness.
  • Steroid shots: Some symptoms of Meniere’s, especially vertigo, can be temporarily relieved with injections of certain steroids.
  • Surgery: Occasionally, Meniere’s disease can be treated with surgery. However, these surgical techniques will generally only affect the vertigo side of symptoms. It won’t affect the other symptoms.
  • Rehabilitation: There are rehabilitation and physical therapy techniques that can help you preserve balance when Meniere’s disease is acting up. If you’re regularly dizzy or dealing with vertigo, this approach might be warranted.
  • Positive pressure therapy: There’s a non-invasive approach used when Meniere’s is particularly challenging to manage. It’s called positive pressure therapy. This therapy entails exposing the inner ear to positive pressure in order to limit fluid accumulation. Peer review has not, as of yet, verified the long-term benefits of this approach but it does seem promising.

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

If you think you have Meniere’s disease, you should get evaluated. The advancement of Meniere’s disease may be slowed down by these treatments. 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.