Meniere’s disease is a disorder that affects the inner ear. The inner ear is responsible for hearing and balance. The condition causes vertigo, the sensation of spinning. It also leads to hearing problems and a ringing sound in the ear. Meniere’s disease usually affects only one ear.
- Recurring episodes of vertigo
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- Feeling of fullness in the ear
After an episode, signs and symptoms improve and might disappear entirely for a while. Over time, the frequency of episodes may lessen.
The cause of Meniere’s disease is unknown. Symptoms of Meniere’s disease appear to be the result of an abnormal amount of fluid (endolymph) in the inner ear, but it isn’t clear what causes that to happen.
Factors that affect the fluid, which might contribute to Meniere’s disease, include:
- Improper fluid drainage, perhaps because of a blockage or anatomic abnormality
- Abnormal immune response
- Viral infection
- Genetic predisposition
Because no single cause has been identified, it’s likely that Meniere’s disease results from a combination of factors.
Treatments for Ménière’s disease can usually help people with the condition control their symptoms. However, current treatments aren’t able to cure the condition.
Possible treatments include:
- medicines to treat the symptoms and prevent attacks
- changes to your eating habits, such as a low-salt diet
- balance training (vestibular rehabilitation)
- relaxation techniques
- surgery, in more severe cases
A number of different surgical procedures may be used to treat Ménières disease, depending on how severe the symptoms are and whether one or both ears are affected. However, the effectiveness of surgery is unclear and research is continuing.
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