Menieres Disease is a disorder of the inner ear which ultimately affects the hearing of those suffering from it and their balance. The permanent condition was named for a physician in France who published an article in 1861 regarding the relationships between vertigo and disorders of the inner ear. The disease can affect people differently but most will experience progressive loss of hearing in both or one ear, vertigo, and episodes of tinnitus.
Certain patients could experience symptoms of varying types and severity that could range from episodes of intense dizziness, tinnitus, hearing loss in both ears, just one ear, and pressure in the ear canals. Typically, Menieres Disease starts with one symptom and then progresses gradually. The attacks of vertigo are usually considered to be the most severe and uncomfortable effects of the condition.
The episode varies from each patient but generally can last from hours down to minutes and can be quite debilitating. Most people who suffer from it also tend to have a significant hearing loss during their episodes of vertigo which usually gets worse over time. Sufferers, on top of that, must also cope with the vomiting, dehydration, and nausea that accompanies the vertigo.
The most reported symptom of the disease is called tinnitus. Tinnitus is the feeling of persistent noises within an ear when no outside noises are actually present. The symptoms of tinnitus are usually described as ringing or chirping noises and can effect one or both of the patient’s ears. Just like with vertigo, tinnitus can be continuous or periodic.
Menieres, in most patients, is caused by excess amounts of endolymphatic fluids inside the inner ear. The fluid, in most cases, secrets from its normal chamber into other areas of the ear and can cause horrific damage. It can be the result of swelling in the vestibular system of the inner ear, the area most commonly known for controlling your sense of balance. People of all ages can be afflicted by the condition but it most often occurs to those between sixty and thirty years of age.
Physicians consult a sufferer’s medical history, exam findings, and symptoms in order to make a diagnosis of Menieres. Usually, an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is taken of the cranium to rule out head or brain injuries that can cause similar complaints. Since the condition is defined as having no known cause, otherwise referred to as idiopathic, there is no definitive test to confirm its presence. Instead, doctors have to rule out other diseases in order to make a diagnosis.
It cannot unfortunately be cured as of now but the side effects and symptoms can be treated with surgeries and medications. Anti-anxiety drugs and antihistamines typically are prescribed to help ameliorate the nausea and vertigo complaints. Usually, various medications are given to patients with high stress levels as well, to help lessen the unpredictable and severe nature of the disease.
If medications aren’t helping sufferers to deal with their problems then their doctor might consider more invasive options. Inner ear surgeries to reduce inflammation or drain extra fluid are considered very risky and often end in a noticeable amount of hearing loss.