Meniere’s involves recurrent symptoms that are a result of unusually high amounts of fluid accumulating in the inner ear. The fluid that accumulates is knows as endolymph. Somewhat similar to Meniere’s are a set of conditions known as Primary & Secondary Endolymphatic Hydrops; both of which are associated with abnormal endolymphatic fluid levels in the vestibular apparatus and/or the cochlea.
The symptoms of Meniere’s may vary across individuals and they often will be distinctly different when comparing the early, mid & late stages of the disease. The disease itself may begin with fluctuating hearing loss and progress to attacks of vertigo and dizziness. Such attacks may last anywhere between 20minutes to 24 hours, and may be separated by days, weeks months or years.
What are the usual symptoms of Meniere's?
Recurring episodes of vertigo. You have a spinning sensation that starts and stops spontaneously. Episodes of vertigo occur without warning and usually last 20 minutes to several hours, but not more than 24 hours. Severe vertigo can cause nausea.
Hearing loss. Hearing loss in Meniere's disease may come and go, particularly early on. Eventually, most people have some permanent hearing loss.
Ringing in the ear (tinnitus). Tinnitus is the perception of a ringing, buzzing, roaring, whistling or hissing sound in your ear.
Feeling of fullness in the ear. People with Meniere's disease often feel pressure in an affected ear (aural fullness).
After an episode, signs and symptoms improve and might disappear entirely for a while. Over time, the frequency of episodes may lessen.
What causes Meniere’s?
Meniere’s is considered an idiopathic disease; meaning that the cause in unknown. Previously, several ideas such as circulation problems, viral infection, allergies, autoimmune reactions, migraine, and genetics have been put forward but a consensus has never been met. One thing that most experts do agree on is that abnormal amounts of fluid (endolymph) in the inner ear creates excessive pressure and results in damage to important structures of the inner ear.
Is there a cure for Meniere’s?
Unfortunately, Meniere’s is a chronic, incurable disorder of the inner ear. However, there are a range of medical interventions that can help manage the condition. Some of the most common treatments involve:
Low-Sodium Diet: Targeted at reducing fluid retention
Medications: Aimed at managing symptoms during an attack
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy: The goal is to improve one’s ability to be able to process balance information and regain confidence to move around
Steroid Injections: Only recommended once conservative treatments have been trialled
Surgery: Only recommended once conservative treatments have been trialled
The best advice for anyone suffering from Meniere’s is to learn about the disease itself and build a collaborative health care team around you. This will allow you to develop a management plan that will be most suited to your individual needs.