Meniere’s disease is a disease of the ear that can result in significant symptoms, including hearing loss and vertigo. It is relatively common in an ear specialist’s practice.
There most common symptoms are:
- Episodes of spinning or rocking, lasting minutes to hours
- Ringing or buzzing in one or both ears
- Sensation of pressure or fullness in one or both ears
- Hearing loss in one or both ears
How is Meniere’s disease diagnosed?
Most of the time, Meniere’s disease can be diagnosed through a conversation and examination between you and the otologist. In some cases, other tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis. These include:
- Comprehensive Audiogram
- Videonystagmography (VNG)
- Electrocochleography (ECOG)
- Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP)
Is there a cure for Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease can not be cured, but it can be managed and suppressed with the help of an otologist. The good news is that Meniere’s disease has been studied by doctors, surgeons, and researchers for over 100 years, and therefore many different therapies that have been developed. Every case of Meniere’s disease is individual, so it is important for your otologist to fully evaluate you and decide which treatment will work best for you.
How does Meniere’s disease develop?
Meniere’s disease is believed to be caused by fluid dysfunction in the inner ear. The inner ear is located inside the skull. It is covered in thick bone, but the interior is hollow and filled with fluid. People with Meniere’s have an excess build up of this fluid, and when the pressure from the fluid becomes too high, it leads to a violent episode of dizziness, ringing, and even hearing loss. When the pressure subsides, so do the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
Are there any specific causative agents for Meniere’s Disease?
Episodes of Meniere’s disease can be induced by a high salt diet, caffeine, sodas, alcohol, certain foods, allergies, infections, and even stress. This is why a simple modification in the patient’s lifestyle and daily habits is usually the first step in trying to keep Meniere’s under control.
What is the natural progression of Meniere’s disease?
Meniere’s disease is progressive and can lead to a profound hearing loss in the affected ear. 15% of patients can develop Meniere’s Disease in the opposite ear. It is therefore important to see an otologist for the proper diagnosis, treatment, and management of symptoms before they become too severe and take over your daily life. It is important to know that with proper treatment, your symptoms can be kept under good control and you can go back to living your normal life.
What are medical treatments for Meniere’s Disease?
Conservative treatments can be utilized, including:
- Medications for dizziness (i.e., Dramamine, Meclizine)
- Nausea medications (i.e., Compazine, Zofran)
- Other medications – your otologist can prescribe more advanced medications, such as diuretics
- Physical exercise to reduce stress
- Vestibular rehabilitation therapy
- Low salt diet
- Avoiding caffeine
- Allergy desensitization therapy
- Corticosteroid treatment
Are there any procedures or surgeries that can be done for Meniere’s Disease?
When lifestyle changes, diet, and medication fail to control symptoms, your otologist may choose one of several options as the next step in treatment. These include:
- Intratympanic corticosteroid injections
- MicroWick Procedure
- Intra-tympanic injection
- Endolymphatic sac decompression
- Vestibular Neurectomy
How do I know which procedure is right for me?
It is important to talk to your otologist in detail before choosing any treatment. Based on your history and symptoms, level of hearing loss, degree of incapacity, and overall health status, your otologist will choose the treatment that will have the least risk and the most benefit for you.