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Ménière's Disease: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Ménière's disease is a rare condition that affects the inner ear. As a result of the condition, hearing loss and tinnitus may become more progressive and ultimately become permanent. In this guide we will cover:
  • What is Ménière's disease?
  • Ménière's disease symptoms
  • What causes Ménière's disease?
  • Ménière's disease treatment

What is Ménière's Disease?

Ménière's disease can be characterized by sudden attacks of hearing loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), vertigo, and the sensation of ear fullness. Usually the disease only affects one ear, but it is not uncommon for both ears to experience episodes.

Approximately 1 in every 1000 people can be affected by the condition and it can occur at any age. French doctor Prosper Ménière identified the disease in the nineteenth century, and gave the condition its name. It's considered a chronic condition.

Treatments are available to help relieve some symptoms of what is described as an incurable disorder. You should consult your GP or a licensed medical professional if you think you may be suffering from the condition.

Ménière's Disease Symptoms

As with any medical condition, the disorder features multiple symptoms, which typically all occur at once, lasting from minutes to hours. Symptoms are often sudden and unexpected.

meniere's disease

During an attack of Ménière's disease, you could experience:

  • Ringing in the ears (including buzzing sounds)
  • A sudden loss of hearing
  • Dizziness with a spinning sensation
  • Feel unstable on your feet
  • Nausea

The condition often starts off in one ear but could affect both ears over time. You can have an attack a few times a week, or they can occur weeks, months or years apart. Unfortunately, it is not possible to tell how frequent future attacks may be. After a Ménière's episode, it may take several days for the symptoms to completely disappear. Usually, the symptoms last two to three hours and it is likely you will feel tired after experiencing Ménière's disease symptoms. Like any hearing-related condition, symptoms can vary from person to person. If you experience any of the above, you should visit a medical practitioner.

Ménière's Disease Causes

The cause of Ménière's disease remains unknown to this very day. It is believed that genetic and environmental factors are involved which can cause slight biological changes and damage to the inner ear. However, an overall root cause is difficult to identify. This is amplified by the rarity of the condition.

A number of theories are said to be possible Ménière's causes. Causes can be associated with ear pressure problems, constricted blood vessels, and infections to name a few. The listed circumstances could increase the risk of Ménière's disease:

  • Migraines
  • Head injury or trauma
  • Viral infection
  • Disorder of the immune system
  • A family history of Ménière's disease

Ménière's Disease Treatment

As it stands, there is no cure for the condition. While there may not be many treatments for the disorder, there are some ways to help prevent or reduce the risk of experiencing an onset. Medications, diet, therapy, and counselling, along with some surgical methods can assist the management of the disorder. Medication can be used to help control vertigo (antihistamines), vomiting, and nausea (prochlorperazine).

A medical professional may be able to assist the management of other symptoms such as tinnitus and hearing loss. Your GP or medical professional could refer you to see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist who should be able to identify if the condition is present or not. If permanent hearing loss is the result of Ménière's disease, then you may require hearing aids to bolster your ability to hear better.

What To Do During A Ménière's Episode

When a sudden episode occurs, it's likely you will experience all or at least many of the symptoms at once. At first, Vertigo could make you feel unsteady and lose balance. The attacks can last from minutes to 24 hours. To help deal with the condition when an episode strikes, you should:
  • Sit or lie down
  • Refrain from moving your head too quickly
  • Keep your eyes closed or fixated on an immobile object
  • Take any medication if necessary

Depending on the severity of a Ménière's attack, extra efforts may be needed. For example, doctor's may suggest taking prochlorperazine via injection rather than orally to give a quicker response. Or, to tackle vertigo, surgical procedures may be a recommended action point.

Once an attack has ceased, moving around could help your eyesight and other senses compensate for the problems the ear is experiencing. Upon the first experience of a potential Ménière's attack, you should seek medical attention.

How To Properly Manage Hearing Loss

A possible result of continued experiences of Ménière's disease could be permanent hearing loss and/or tinnitus. There are a number of ways to effectively manage hearing loss. First, you need to identify which type of hearing impairment you have, e.g. sensorineural hearing loss or conductive hearing loss or a potential mix of the two. Depending on the type of hearing loss, hearing aids may present the most effective way to deal with impairment.
 HD 250 Digital Hearing Aid

At Hearing Direct, you will find a wide selection of digital hearing aids to help improve your quality of life, as well as your hearing. For example, the HD 250 is one of the most popular devices that we dispense. Suited for mild to moderate hearing loss, it comes complete with the essential features you will need to competently manage your impairment. Plus, you'll get a free pack of hearing aid batteries so the device is fully ready-to-wear on arrival.

Check Your Hearing Online For Free

If you believe you may be suffering from some form of hearing loss, take our hearing test.

The online hearing check is free, only takes a few minutes, and the results are instant. The outcome of the test can help identify if you should take further action to prevent hearing loss.

About Hearing Direct

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For more information on Ménière's disease and links to relevant organisations, visit the NORD website Ménière's disease page
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