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Everything You Need to Know About Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is a hearing disorder that affects the inner ear.  It affects an estimated 600,000 to 750,000 people in the United States, with 45,000 to 60,000 new cases diagnosed annually. 

This hearing disorder can often reduce the quality of life, as its symptoms can increase the risk for falls and accidents and lead to stress and fatigue.

Getting an accurate diagnosis for Meniere’s disease can lead to early treatment and recovery. Here’s a look at the signs and symptoms of this hearing disorder, along with available treatment options.

What Is Meniere’s Disease?

Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear. It can lead to dizzy spells, vertigo, and hearing loss. In most cases, only one ear is affected by Meniere’s disease.

There is no known cause of Meniere’s disease. However, audiologists have found that its symptoms may be caused by having an abnormal amount of fluid, or endolymph, in the inner ear.

Factors that may contribute to Meniere’s disease include:

  • Improper fluid drainage due to a possible blockage or anatomic abnormality
  • An abnormal immune response
  • Viral infection
  • Genetics

Meniere’s disease can affect anyone but usually begins between young adulthood and middle age.

Signs and Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease

Four main symptoms characterize Meniere’s disease. These symptoms are:

  • Episodes of vertigo. Vertigo is a spinning sensation that can start and stop spontaneously. An episode can begin suddenly without warning and last anywhere between 20 minutes to several hours. Severe cases of vertigo may cause nausea.
  • Tinnitus. Tinnitus is the sensation of a “ringing in the ears.” However, this symptom can also manifest as other sounds, including a loud humming, buzzing, or whistling. Its severity can range from person to person. It may range from loud to soft and include a range of low- and high-pitched sounds.
  • Hearing loss. Hearing loss may come and go during the early stages of Meniere’s disease. Most people who are diagnosed with Meniere’s disease experience some degree of hearing loss.
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear. People who are diagnosed with Meniere’s disease regularly feel pressure in the affected ear, which is often referred to as aural fullness.

Treatment Options for Meniere’s Disease

There is no cure for Meniere’s disease. However, treatment can reduce the severity of symptoms to improve the quality of life. Medications may also be used to manage vertigo, such as motion-sickness medications and anti-nausea aids.

Non-invasive therapies and procedures that may be used to treat Meniere’s disease include:

  • Positive pressure therapy. This treatment is ideal for patients who have severe vertigo. It involves using a Meniett pulse generator device that applies pressure to the middle ear to reduce fluid buildup.
  • Rehabilitation. Vertigo can often cause serious problems with balance. Vestibular rehabilitation is a type of therapy that can help improve balance.
  • Hearing aids. A hearing aid can be used to treat hearing loss caused by Meniere’s disease. Hearing aids can be customized for a proper fit and are now available with Bluetooth technology.

An audiologist may recommend additional treatments for Meniere’s disease if symptoms worsen or persist. Steroids or antibiotics medications may be injected into the middle ear, and surgery may be recommended to remove excess fluid if other treatments do not work. An audiologist can often determine the best treatments for Meniere’s disease based on its severity and progression.

At Sonora Hearing Care, we understand how hearing loss can impact your relationships and quality of life. Our audiologists are more than happy to screen you for Meniere’s disease and answer all your questions regarding treatments for hearing loss. Contact us today at (520) 881-8740 to schedule a consultation and learn more about our hearing services.