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Hydrops; Endolymphatic hydrops
Meniere's disease is an inner ear disorder that affects balance and hearing.
See also: Vertigo
The inner ear has fluid-filled tubes called semicircular canals, or labyrinths. The canals, along with a nerve in your skull, help interpret your body's position and maintain your balance.
Meniere's disease occurs when a part of the canal, called the endolymphatic sac, becomes swollen. This sac helps filter and remove fluid in the semicircular canals.
The exact cause of Meniere's disease is unknown. In some cases, it may be related to:
Other risk factors include:
Genetics may also play a role.
Between 50,000 and 100,000 people a year develop Meniere's disease.
Attacks or episodes of Meniere's disease often start without warning. They may occur daily, or as rarely as once a year. The severity of each episode can vary.
Severevertigo or dizziness is the symptom that causes the most problems. People who have vertigo feel as though they are spinning or moving, or that the world is spinning around them.
Hearing loss may occur. Usually the hearing loss is only in one ear, but it may affect both ears.
Other symptoms include:
A brain and nervous system (neurological) examination may show problems with hearing, balance, or eye movement.
A procedure called caloric stimulation tests eye reflexes by warming and cooling the inner ear with water. Abnormal results on this test can be a sign of Meniere's disease.
The following tests may also be done to distinguish Meniere's disease from other causes of vertigo:
There is no known cure for Meniere's disease. However, lifestyle changes and some treatments can often help relieve symptoms.
Your doctor may suggest ways to decrease the amount of water or fluid in your body. This can often help control symptoms.
Other changes that may help with the symptoms and keep you safe include:
Symptoms of Meniere's disease can cause stress. Find healthy lifestyle choices to help you cope:
Your health care provider may prescribe medicines for nausea and vomiting. Symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo may respond to sedative/hypnotics and benzodiazepines such as diazepam.
You may need ear surgery if your symptoms are severe and do not respond to other treatment.
Hearing aids may be needed for severe hearing loss.
The outcome varies. Meniere's disease can often be controlled with treatment.
The condition may get better on its own. However, Meniere's may be chronic or disabling.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms of Meniere's disease, such as hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or dizziness, occur or worsen.
There is no known prevention for Meniere's disease, but prompt treatment of ear infection and other related disorders may be helpful.
Crane BT, Schessel DA, Nedzelski J, Minor LB. Peripheral vestibular disorders. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2010:chap 165.
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