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What is Meniere’s disease?

Named after the French doctor who discovered the disease, Meniere’s is an inner ear disorder that affects hearing and balance.

Although Meniere’s disease can affect people of any age, people in their 40s and 50s are much more likely to experience it. This condition is considered to be chronic and there is no cure, but there are various treatment strategies that will minimise the effect on your life and relieve symptoms.

Potential causes or triggers of Meniere’s

Although the exact cause of Meniere’s is unknown, it most likely has something to do with increased pressure in the inner ear membrane, from increased pressure of the fluid (known as endolymph) in the endolymphatic sac. which is full of a fluid known as endolymph. Another name for Meniere’s is primary idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops, which essentially means abnormal fluid in the inner ear.

Ménière’s disease causes damage to the hair cell receptors in the inner ear, which then send disorganised signals to the auditory nerve and to the brain.

Potential causes or triggers of Meniere’s disease

These include:

  1. Head injury
  2. Infection to the inner or middle ear
  3. Allergies which damage the inner ear
  4. Alcohol use
  5. Stress
  6. Side effects of certain medications
  7. Smoking
  8. Stress or anxiety
  9. Fatigue
  10. Family history of the disease
  11. Respiratory infection
  12. Recent viral infection or illness
  13. Abnormal immune response or immune system disorder
  14. Migraines

Symptoms of Meniere’s disease

People with Meniere’s can experience:

  1. A feeling of pressure in the ear
  2. Sudden dizzy spells
  3. Tinnitus
  4. Muffled hearing or hearing loss

Symptoms vary from person to person, and some will experience many attacks over a period of several days, and others will have an isolated attack every once in a while. To diagnose the disease, you must experience tinnitus, hearing loss and vertigo more than once. Since all of these issues can stand alone or be associated with other diseases, Meniere’s can sometimes be difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms usually begin with the feeling of pressure in the ear, followed by tinnitus, hearing loss and vertigo. These episodes will last anywhere from 20 minutes to four hours. People with Meniere’s will generally experience episodes in clusters with long periods of remission. When you experience an episode of Meniere’s disease, it is best to lie down and focus on one non-moving object. Often, a sufferer will feel better after taking a nap.

Note: If your only primary symptom is vertigo, it may not be Meniere’s but instead a common condition known as BPPV.

If you think you might have Meniere’s disease and would like to have an assessment, call us on 01223 661399 or book an appointment online.