Meniere's Disease

Meniere’s disease is a condition in the internal ear which was described by a French physician Prosper Meniere in 1861. There are around 615,000 people that have this disease in United States alone. The group most likely to be affectedis older people. Lifestyle changes and proper treatment can help to relieve the symptoms. More than half of the patients diagnosed with Meniere’s disease will achieve remission within a few years after their diagnosis.

Symptoms of Meniere's Disease

1. Temporary Symptoms

Meniere’s disease often comes in episodes of temporary symptoms:

  • Ear pressure. You can feel pressure or fullness inside your ear.
  • Hearing problems. Dulled hearing or hearing loss in the affected ear.
  • Tinnitus. You can feel the noise such as roaring, ringing or buzzing from the inside of the affected ear. Sometimes, there may be loud noises in your affected ear.
  • Vertigo. This condition can develop with little or no warning. You can feel severe dizziness.

The episode of Meniere’s disease can last from 20 minutes to few hours. The average is 2-4 hours. The attacks of Meniere’s disease can occur frequently or only every few months. Some episodes may be so close together that it may seem that one episode lasts for few days. On average, patients experience 6-11 clusters per year.

In the beginning of Meniere’s disease, symptoms can occur on one side only, but after years some patients start to feel symptoms on both sides.

2. Permanent Symptoms

Permanent symptoms usually take months or years to develop:

  • Tinnitus. Similarly to hearing loss, tinnitus is usually temporary at the start during each episode. It becomes permanent in some cases.
  • Hearing loss. Hearing loss is usually temporary at first during each episode. In the early stages of the condition, the hearing often reverts back to normal when an episode is over. As the years go by, the permanent hearing loss and deafness may develop.
  • Other problems. Some patients may feel permanent sense of imbalance and vertigo symptoms.

When to see a doctor

Visit your doctor if you are suffering from any symptoms of Meniere’s disease. Any of these signs can be the result of other health condition, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.

Causes of Meniere's Disease

The exact causes of Meniere’s disease are not known. It appears to be related to the inadequate composition or volume of fluid in the internal ear.

The inner ear is a group thatincludes passages and cavities called labyrinth. A bony labyrinthis outside of the internal ear. The inside of the ear is a soft membranous labyrinth. It is smaller but has a similar shape as the bony labyrinth.  This inner labyrinth contains endolymph (a fluid) and is connected with sensors that are responsible for the movement of the fluid. If the internal ear fluids do not retain a particular pressure, volume and chemical composition, Meniere’s disease can occur.

Potential causes of the Meniere’s disease include:

  • Inadequate immune response
  • Allergies or viral infections
  • Improper fluid drainage caused by blockage or anatomic abnormality
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Head trauma or migraines
  • It is more likely that Meniere’s disease can be caused by the combination of factors.

Treatments for Meniere's Disease

There is no treatment for Meniere’s disease, but certain treatments can help you to relieve the symptoms.

1. Medication

  • Your doctor may recommend you motion sickness medications, such as meclizine and diazepam. You can take them during an attack of vertigo to ease the symptoms. These medications can also help to fight vomiting and nausea.
  • Medications to fight nausea and control vomiting, for example, promethazine, may be prescribed.
  • Your doctor may prescribe some long-term treatments to lessen fluid retention in the body, such as dyazide, maxzide or other diuretics. Reducing the liquid retention in your body can help to regulate the fluid volume and pressure in the internal ear. If you are taking diuretics, make sure you get enough potassium-rich foods in your diet.

2. Injections

  • Your doctor may recommend you middle ear injections to ease vertigo symptoms. Gentamicin (antibiotic) injection can help to reduce the severity and frequency of vertigo episode. This injection can be done in your doctor’s office under local anesthesia. The potential rick of this procedure is hearing loss.
  • Steroid injections, such as dexamethasone, may be prescribed to help lessen symptoms of vertigo attacks. Those injections can be done under local anesthesia by your health specialist. Dexamethasone injections are less effective than gentamicin injections, but dexamethasone is less likely to cause hearing loss.

3. Surgery

  • Labyrinthectomy is advised only if an individual has severe hearing loss in the affected ear or ears. With this surgery, the doctor eliminates the balance portion of the inner ear, removing the infected ear's hearing and balance function.
  • A vestibular nerve section is a surgery that involves trimming the nerve linking movement and balance sensors in the internal ear to the vestibular nerve. This treatment often helps to fight vertigo but preserves hearing.
  • Endolymphatic sac procedures can help to regulate the levels of inner ear fluids. These procedures can lessen vertigo. They tend to increase fluid absorption and decrease fluid production in the ear.

4. Noninvasive Therapies and Procedures

  • Hearing aid procedure can help to reduce your hearing loss. Contact your doctor to find out what are the best hearing aid options for you.
  • Vestibular rehabilitation therapy can help you to regain your balance between episodes of vertigo. The therapy includes activities and exercises that help your body to regain and process the balance information properly.
  • Meniett pulse generator can help to improve and regulate the fluid exchange in the ear. This device applies pulses of pressure to your ear canal via ventilation tube. This treatment can be done at home, usually few times a day.

Home Remedies of Meniere's Disease

Changing your diet and lifestyle can help to reduce and regulate the amount of fluid in your inner ear and relieve the symptoms. Apply there changes to your daily routine:

  • Exclude or limit salt, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and monosodium glutamate from your diet.
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily to reduce fluid retention in your body.
  • Quit smoking, as this habit can worsen the symptoms of vertigo.
  • Rest well during vertigo episodes.
  • Manage your stress and anxiety with some medications or psychotherapy.
  • Eat regularly to reduce fluid retention in the body.
  • Avoid allergens and treat your allergies, as they can worsen the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.

You can know more alternative ways to treat Meniere's disease in the video below: