Meniere’s Disease, also known as Idiopathic Endolymphatic Hydrops, is a condition of the Inner Ear that can cause fluctuating hearing loss, ringing in the ears and a feeling of fullness in the ears, dizziness and other balance problems. It can happen at any age but usually occurs in adults over the age of 20. In most Meniere’s Disease cases, the condition occurs only occurs in one ear.
While the exact cause of Meniere’s Disease is not known, it is believed the build-up of excess fluid in the Inner Ear plays an important part in creating the symptoms. This is most likely due to excess production of Inner Ear fluid and/or the body’s inability to reabsorb the fluid.
Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
Meniere’s Disease typically occurs as a series of episodic attacks where an individual experiences a combination of Hearing Loss, Tinnitus and Vertigo along with having the sensation of a full ear. These attacks, which can last anywhere from 20 minutes to a few days, can be deliberating.
While it affects each individual differently, a typical attack results in hearing loud distorted sounds with associated hearing loss occurring at lower pitches. The associated Tinnitus can occur during or before the periods of hearing loss. If left untreated, the attacks can evolve to include bouts of Vertigo and dizziness with the associated hearing loss becoming permanent.
Most Meniere’s disease treatments are aimed at either reducing the severity and frequency of attacks. Common treatments options include:
- Low sodium diets to help control water retention and reduce Inner-Ear fluid pressure;
- Use of medications to reduce vertigo and nausea associated with an attack;
- Vestibular rehabilitation therapy to help individuals maintain their balance abilities between attacks; and
- Surgery that destroys the part of the Inner Ear that sends balance and hearing information to the brain.